Research shows young procurement professionals embracing social web

Planning on using the social web to market to B2B decision-makers?  According to just-released research from London’s Base One Group, you might consider the age of your target audience.

In a comprehensive study of 503 UK B2B purchasing decision-makers, those under 30 years of age were twice as likely to be fans of the social web and use it actively as an information-gathering tool.

The report does a nice job breaking out the information channels used by B2B decision makers by demographics and industry, but also by the stage in the decision-making process.

For example, decision-makers under 30 counted on blogs, Twitter and Facebook at the exploratory stage of a supplier search about 30% of the time compared to about 6% for those over 30 years of age.  The one exception was LinkedIn, where both age groups found equal utility.

Important implication of this —  the upcoming generation of professionals is relying heavily on new media as an information gathering tool.

Blogs rule?

Another thought-provoking nugget in the study, is that when B2B procurement decision-makers were finding potential new suppliers, Twitter and blogs were considered as a more influential source of supplier information than any other information channel, including word of mouth, seminars and industry publications.

However, the most popular sources of information across all ages remains decidedly “old school:” web searches, supplier websites, seminars, and the industrial press.

In fact, when asked how their information gathering behavior had changed, procurement professionals cited the greatest increased use of web searches (up for  64% of respondents) and supplier websites (up for 61%). Social networking sites Facebook and Twitter experienced 6% and 10% net increases respectively, and LinkedIn saw growth of 19%. Online videos/webinars/podcasts were also a strong source of information with an increase in usage of 36%, consistent with other B2B research that has been featured on {grow}.

Base One Group commissioned the new research in association with B2B Marketing Magazine.  The study had a diverse industry profile including manufacturing, business services, financial, public administration and healthcare. About 50% of the respondents had 1,000 employees or more.


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  • There’s a lot of stuff in here for sure.

    Another interesting finding was that supplier websites are significantly more popular as an information source to business buyers at the start of the buying process.

    What this says to me is that companies that are not including good, issue-based content on their websites are missing an opportunity. This is what buyers need at the start of the buying process – they are not ready for detailed product information, so if company websites offer nothing more than product literature and company info [and many do] it looks like they are missing out on the chance to engage the prospect.


  • Mark, thanks for sharing this survey. It’s interesting to see the growth of “Other Online Communities” use is actually equal to or greater than the more specific mentions of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. People need to know that there is more out there than just these few “popular” sources where thier market is talking.

  • Mark

    Excellent point. I have been thinking a lot about this item!

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