Millennials' Enterprise Technology Buying Power Trumps Baby Boomers and Gen Xers According to Survey

May 12, 2016

Despite popular belief around the growing Millennial workforce's reliance on mobile and social channels, survey findings show these digital natives are influenced by similar sources as their generational predecessors. What's more, they have significant influence in the B2B buying cycle. In fact, the millennial generation takes the lead in decision-making power for B2B purchases and has research power when short-listing technology solutions, according to a survey released by Arketi Group, a high-tech B2B PR and digital marketing firm. 

Arketi Group surveyed 262 business technology buyers across the three major generations in the workforce today - Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. The survey explores the go-to sources of information for each generation across the three stages of the buyer's journey. From evaluating a problem in the awareness stage, to researching technology options in the consideration stage, and to creating a short list in the decision stage, there were surprising overlaps and clear differences. 

The national survey found more than half of Millennials (61%) describe their role in technology purchases within their organization as decision-maker-one of the most powerful roles within an organization. In further examination, 34% of Millennials report having budget and/or final sign-off authority on enterprise technology purchases of $10,000 or more. In comparison to its generational predecessors, 23% of Baby Boomers and 27% of Gen X report the same budget and sign-off authority. 

When evaluating tech purchases of $10,000 or greater, Millennials' most frequently used sources of information include: industry analysts (38%), vendor face-to-face meetings (36%) and vendor websites (33%). In comparison, a greater number of Baby Boomers rely on industry analysts (50%), followed by colleagues (49%) and vendor face-to-face meetings (48%). The top of Gen X's list includes colleagues and vendor websites (both at 40%), and analysts and trade shows (both at 38%) when it comes to the most influential information sources in buying enterprise technology. 

When examining streams of information consumed at different stages of the buying cycle, the reliance on interpersonal interactions is even more pronounced among Millennials. At the start of a typical B2B buying cycle, when seeking to understand and explore a possible business problem, Millennials most often seek information from analysis and colleagues in their organization (each at 29%).  

As a buyer moves from identifying the problem to researching available technology solutions, the data reveals millennials seek increasingly more interpersonal interactions. In this phase, a plurality of Millennials turn to colleagues (26%) and vendor face-to-face meetings (25%) for information. During the final phase of a B2B buying process, the creation of a shortlist from which decisions are made, Millennials rely on face-to-face vendor meetings (24%), colleagues (23%), and live or in-person demos (21%). 

The report concludes Millennials are much less reliant on social media than conventional wisdom might predict. In fact, social channels fail to break into double-digits as an information source for any stage of the B2B buying cycle.