Nearly two-thirds of business buyers (64%) were born after 1980 and are taking a different approach to purchasing than their older colleagues. While direct purchasing from vendors remains the primary route, self-directed research and purchasing channels (e.g., external marketplaces, app stores, vendor websites, and existing products / product-led growth) are becoming increasingly popular.
“As self-service transactions rise in popularity, providers must understand the behaviors of their target buyers to create seamless experiences that are easy to find, easy to use, and align to their preferences,” argued Forrester Analysts Amy Hayes and Barbara Winters.
The pair noted that information gathering is similar across all generations, with a near-even split between personal and self-guided buyers. However, younger buyers place a greater emphasis on independent information resources such as technology information websites, forums/message boards, and industry websites.
This youth movement was echoed on TechTarget’s earnings call last week. TechTarget publishes over 150 opted-in enterprise software and HealthTech websites and generates intent data from research activities (They also own the BrightTALK webinar and digital content platform).
This shift towards increased research resulted in a 50% increase in organic search-based visits to TechTarget’s technology research sites over the past year.
“High quality, independent content has always been the foundation of our business. As the demographics of technology buyers skew younger, they want to self-service their purchase diligence and minimize contact with vendor sales reps until very late in the purchase process. Most vendors’ go-to-market processes are sales-rep-centric, which we believe is causing a disconnect with what buyers want. As a result, our expectation is that vendors will be forced to transform their go-to-market processes to be aligned with how and when buyers engage. Smart vendors are doing this today by creating more buyer-oriented content to provide regular touchpoints with prospects outside of sales rep engagement.”TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia
“Over 50% of technology buyers wanted a rep-less experience, which means they really rely on content to make all decisions about 6, 7, [and] 8-figure acquisitions that they want. They can’t be fooled by thin, broad-based, irrelevant content that’s not recent,” argued Cotoia. “So being able to help our customers tie in those insights to help empower their content strategy will be an effective place for us…as a publisher and as a community with proprietary first-party data insights.”
“This is a wake-up call for providers to contemplate how their demand, customer engagement, and reputation programs for earned media coverage align to how and where buyers look for information.”
Younger purchasers are also more likely to be dissatisfied with the buying experience. “Buyer-facing roles must understand the holistic experience from the buyer’s perspective,” advised Forrester.