The way people are consuming just about everything is changing. If the buyers journey were a food let’s just say the fork and knife have been replaced.
We have entered a world where the way people consume is for lack of a better word – backwards.
Did you know that according to a recent Forrester study that 70-90% of a purchase is complete before the buyer will ever contact a vendor or retailer? This means that people are doing the vast majority of the buyers’ journey alone (in the company of their device, the internet and their online networks.
If I could make a prediction right now as I write this on March 26, 2014, I would suggest that in the future, say the next 5 years, that 70-90% will be more like 90-100%. This is because peoples purchasing behavior is becoming more autonomous than ever as they seek out user-generated content to provide their initial data set on whatever it is they’re looking to buy. And while this may sound like a gut feeling, it is deeply rooted in data: did you know that 76% of buyers start their purchasing process with Google? Yep, that isn’t online or using search, that is just Google! Once you add in other search and content platforms the number probably moves rapidly closer to 85 or 90 percent.
Yeah, But That’s Just a Millennial Thing
So says your uncle or you grandma — but truth be told, both Grandma Barb and Uncle Joe are buying things differently these days as well, generationally speaking.
It is of popular opinion that Millennials are the big culprit when it comes to the buyer that never leaves the house and prefers to do all of their shopping online but that just isn’t true.
While it is true that as a whole Millennials like to do their research and buy online, so do the generations that came before them.
Let’s take for instance the Baby Boomer. Now this generation didn’t grow up with the internet and they sure as heck don’t LOL like a Millennial, but guess what, they like to shop online.
Would it surprise you if I told you 70% of boomers (age 45-60) make personal purchases online and of that 45% of that same group make their business purchases online as well? Ironically according to one USA today study the online purchase rate of boomers is almost as high as that of Millennials, which was just 71%. It turns out that the lesser-discussed Gen X buyer leads the online purchasing brigade at a rate of nearly 80%.
Interesting Trends In Corporate Purchasing
Now perhaps the most interesting shift across generations is that buyers of all ages are both positive in their sentiment and their activities as it relates to corporate purchasing.
According to one study performed by Acquity Group, the vast majority of corporate buyers are comfortable making major purchase of $5,000.00 or more online. This article further pointed out that B2B suppliers are missing this trend in a big way, as they don’t make it easy for corporate buyers to complete transactions online.
In the same study a couple of more very telling data points came to light including the fact that 13% of buyers with a budget of more than 500 million seek to make their purchases directly from a suppliers website and of this group half would like to do nearly all of their purchases online.
In short, what these numbers are showing is that more and more corporate buyers are seeking to have a more “B2C” online experience. Perhaps using online benchmarks like Amazon, Zappos and eBay as the example of what B2B companies should be considering.
One thing is for certain: when it comes to the evolving buyers’ journey, it may be less generational and more generation-ALL as buyers of every age seek to do more of their consumption online.
For B2B companies and organizations that think the old traditional way of doing business will suffice into the future, the numbers are telling another story, and they are saying pivot or else.
Below is the Infographic referencing the Acquity Group study mentioned above
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.