The way B2B companies do business has evolved. With more emphasis being put on digital transformation that has only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and changing customer behaviors, B2B decision-makers are changing as well, as a younger generation takes their seat at the table. Here’s what a recent report from LinkedIn’s The B2B Institute and GWI has to say about this new breed of decision-makers they have labeled as “BETAs”
So, what is a BETA? The report describes this group of 21-40-year-olds as the first generation of digital natives to reach senior positions in businesses. For them “the line between their life and work is Blurred; they have Evolved to believe formal structures will be supplanted by development opportunities for the individual; their dexterity with Technology will give them an advantage as work styles evolve; and they will take their Activism to work and use it as a filter to judge employers, colleagues, customers and suppliers.”
Part of this blurring of the line between their life and work can be seen with their use of tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The global survey of more than 17,000 business professionals found that while half say there are many services they use in both personal and professional capacities, professionals ages 21-30 (52%) and 31-40 (52%) were more likely than older professionals to do so (46% of professionals ages 41-50 and 38% of ages 51-64).
Other Ways BETAs Are Different
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of BETAs include their desire to stand out in a crowd, with 63% and 60% of business professionals ages 21-30 and 31-40, respectively, agreeing compared to 42% and 27% of those ages 41-50 and 51-64, respectively.
Their social media behaviors also differ from other professionals. Although they are about on par with older professionals when it comes to following contacts relevant to work on social media (37% vs. 32%), they are far more likely to follow brands they are thinking of buying from (36% vs. 19%) and to follow entrepreneurs/business people (34% vs. 16%).
Additionally, they also are more likely to use online learning to increase their professional knowledge. Some 84% of BETAs ages 21-30 and 75% of those ages 31-40 report engaging in online learning for any professional reason. This is compared to 57% and 42% of other professionals ages 41-50 and 51-64, respectively.
And, in keeping with their generations’ leanings toward sustainability, about two-thirds (67%) of BETAs say they would pay more for sustainable/eco-friendly products. Diversity is also important to this group with 76% agreeing that they like to be surrounded by different people, ideas and lifestyles.
Business Priorities and Decision-Making
Improving efficiency and productivity and finding cost-savings were the two most important company initiatives across all professionals surveyed. However, more BETAs prioritized initiatives such as improving innovation, better compliance with regulations and requirements, and enhancing security than older professionals.
When BETAs evaluate potential vendors, they tend to consider a wider set than other professionals, but they are also more apt to buy from a provider they’ve heard of. (This is worth keeping in mind given their use of services for both personal and professional purposes.)
BETAs, per the report, are most influenced by recommendations from experts in their network (53%), user reviews (51%) and industry analyst recommendations (50%). They are also much more influenced by social media, video sites and online newspapers and magazines, than non-BETAs.
Not only that, they use supplier websites differently. They are more likely to read case studies (40% vs. 32%), look at which other companies are already using the vendor (39% vs. 32%) and read reviews or endorsements (50% vs. 44%) than other professionals.
The full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 17,692 business professionals ages 21-64 in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US.