Although millennials generally have a stronger fluency in and preference for the use of technology in the workplace, it’s only been due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and the need for high adaptability that it demanded) that they’ve actually seen a widespread professional and preferential transition to virtual technology in business. In B2B marketing, both buyers and sellers have had to adapt their interactions to the virtual realm, a temporary fix that many now agree shows promise. It’s likely that this trend towards doing business virtually will continue even after COVID-19 no longer necessitates it, and that could be because millennials, the most tech-savvy demographic in the workforce today, are also the most influential decision-makers in the current business landscape.
Millennials and Technology
Millennials have always been much more closely connected to technology than have older generations. For the most part, today’s millennials grew up using technology that didn’t exist for the generations that came before them, and their natural familiarity with the virtual world has given them a leg up in the gradual global trend towards the use of technology in all sectors of life.
As compared to gen-Xers and baby boomers, the other major generations in business today, millennials are generally much more comfortable and proficient with technology, simply because of the exposure they’ve had to it throughout their lives. That being said, they also haven’t had all that much influence over business practices in any sector (including B2B marketing) until fairly recently, as they’ve only been coming of age in the business world within the past five or so years.
Though millennials have been proponents of integrating technology and digitalization into the workforce since they first began joining its ranks, it’s only been due to the unprecedented new demands of the pandemic that B2B marketing has made the switch; essentially, the industry has been forced to conduct a global experiment to see just how effective virtual selling can be一 and they’ve found that it works.
With these new changes in place, many may be wondering whether they will remain once COVID-19 no longer necessitates virtual business practices. For those who have been hesitant about the extended use of technology brought on by the pandemic, reverting to the old way of doing things may seem like a much-desired reward after an uphill battle with COVID-19.
Regardless of your stance on the matter, it’s highly unlikely that B2B marketing will revert back completely to what it was pre-pandemic. The issue is complex, and there are many reasons backing this theory, but the one most relevant to this discussion involves the new influence millennials now have over the market and the business sector, and what they’re going to be most likely to do with it in the wake of COVID-19.
Millennials’ Decision-Making Influence Today
The gradual increase in the millennials’ global importance may be easy to overlook, but the current data shows us that 73% of all decision-making, or influencing of buying decisions, in business today is done by millennials, who now also make up the largest generation in the workforce. As to be expected, they also like using technology and virtual communication more so than any other generation, with 41% reporting they actually prefer to communicate electronically than in person.
It’s difficult to facilitate industry-wide change, especially in something as significant as the medium through which we communicate, which is likely why the millennial population was not able to drive this transition before the pandemic necessitated it. That, and the fact that millennials as a group have only now gained influence in the business world as they’ve come of age within the past few years. However, now that the entire B2B marketing industry has been spurred to adopt digital platforms due to the pandemic, it’s likely that millennials, as the critical generation in the role of decision-making today, will have enough influence to maintain this new way of business. Today, they have the numbers, the decision-making influence, and the special interest in keeping virtual business around, and so it’s likely we won’t be seeing a reversion to the old tactics even after COVID-19.
With the influence of the highly powerful millennial generation in the workforce today, it’s likely that the shift to virtual buying and selling in B2B marketing will continue even after COVID-19 no longer makes it logistically necessary. What’s important to take away here is that B2B marketing will look different moving forward and that marketing teams should be equipped to do business virtually with success. What’s more, millennials also hold much of the power in business today, and so, as marketers, having a solid grasp of what appeals to them will be key for future success.