Part 2: The Modern Buyer
The digital economy and the continued evolution of digital technologies have had a monumental impact on buyers and their behaviors. At the turn of the 20th century to the 21st century, B2B buying behaviors still existed in a very structured manner. Supplier and buyer roles were clear, reliance on information from suppliers still prominent, and decision-making hierarchal in nature. Fast forward to today, the modern buyer is an empowered force in a new as well as flatter digital economy.
Emerging New Attributes Of Modern Buyers
Post financial crisis of 2008 -2009, we are beginning to see a rise in a younger generation of workers entering the workforce. These new workers are digitally savvy and cannot imagine a life of not being always on. This rise combined with new advancements in digital technology is resulting in a rapidly changing landscape to that of the modern buyer. The modern buyer of today has the following 4 behavioral attributes:
- Always On: today’s buyers are always connected and always on. Tethered to the Internet through multiple devices and having access to data 24/7. A recent survey showed the average Smartphone user checks their Smartphone over 100 times per day!
- Own Multiple-Devices: in a few short years, we have gone from the introduction of the Smartphone to multiple devices tied together in the cloud. Making work content, personal content, and information sources available anytime and anywhere.
- Prefer Self-Directed And Self-Service: the modern buyer prefers the ability to self-direct their intentions as well as to have the ability to self-service. Showing little tolerance for the old-fashion idea of “waiting in line.”
- Access to information at any time or moment: having access to information at anytime or more accurately, any moment, is an emerging as a key behavioral attribute. The days of “I will look into that for you” will continue to shorten.
These four attributes are radically shifting our concepts of marketing. Causing urgency in B2B organizations to chart a course towards transforming to the modern marketing organization.
Impacting Modern Marketing
For over a decade, I have conducted well over a 1,000 qualitative buyer interviews on behalf of several of America’s leading corporations. Enabling a seat on the “frontline” to witness the ebbs and flows of buying behavior shifts. While the four attributes mentioned were the obvious on the frontline, they actually are contributing to 4 larger trends in buyer behavior. Having a dramatic impact on modern marketing and sales:
- Active Learning: the always on and all access modern buyers are seeking and soaking up knowledge like never before. Modern marketers must think of themselves as knowledge providers, not just information providers at the point of interest.
- Information Immediacy: the modern buyer has higher expectations for having immediate access to information at the moment it is needed. Modern mobility and multiple devices have reshaped mindsets towards getting information. Imagine a meeting of a collaborative work team. At a critical point in their discussion, they wish to have access to information to help inform their planning. The modern marketing organization must meet the test of instantaneous access to the right information when needed.
- Research Is Continuous: while we have known modern buyers will research options to solve problems, emerging are three areas following this trend in its’ path. The first is researching how to identify and assess their problem more deeply. The second is performing a distinctively different type of research related to opinion and social conversation research. The third is conducting research seeking detailed user reviews very much like they would read customer reviews of a household item on Amazon.
- Transparency And Openness: the emergence of digital always on and always-accessible information is creating new levels of expectations for transparency and openness. The digital economy is forcing B2B organizations today to be transparent globally. Having to meet new morality and ethics standards imposed by foreign countries as well as special interests nationally.
Increasing Need For Understanding Modern Buyers
These shifts and emerging trends in modern buying behaviors have created an urgent need for modern marketers to learn about and understand the modern buyer. Lacking in understanding will continue to result in many of the problems as well as poor results marketers in transition are experiencing today.
Modern marketing will rest on a core foundation of deep buyer insights. At the same, deep insights will enable the creation of modern marketing building blocks. We know these building blocks will look vastly different than those from more than a decade ago.