B2B Buyers Are People, Too. Who Are They, and What Makes Them Tick?

April 29, 2014

B2B-Debrief-Entry-ChartWhile there’s a good deal of research focusing on how B2B marketers are shifting their marketing efforts, there’s less data concerning buyer behavior – and even less about buyers themselves, as individuals. But ultimately the individuals involved in business purchase decisions – and those signing on the dotted line – are people, too, and understanding them is an essential component of marketing to them.  A new MarketingCharts Debrief provides targeted and practical information about B2B buyers as individuals, unearthing surprising demographic trends and distinct media consumption habits.

The study – comprised primarily of data sourced from leading research providers that has not been made publicly available – takes a three-pronged approach to targeting B2B buyers and decision-makers, by:

  • Providing a demographic overview of the B2B buyer population;
  • Analyzing how buyers can best be reached through media; and
  • Indicating when – and how – they can be most influenced through content marketing assets.

The Debrief reveals intriguing – and sometimes unexpected – patterns distinct to the B2B buyer population.

For example, the data indicates that the demographic profile of B2B buyers is going against the tide of the general population in several ways related to gender, race/ethnicity, and political outlook.

An analysis of media and device reach among B2B buyers and decision-makers also reveals significant differences from the average adult. While it may not be surprising to see buyers using traditional media at a disproportionately high rate, certain connected devices also see strong adoption among buyers and decision-makers, and a snapshot of their mobile emailing behavior shows the extent to which they are using their devices for emailing, along with the time of day when they’re most likely to be found emailing from their smartphones.

One of the interesting trends to emerge from the data relates to buyers’ use of traditional media. In each of the specific media analyzed – cable TV, radio, and magazines – the top-indexing channels and genres reveal a distinct pattern reflecting B2B buyers’ tastes and activities.

Meanwhile, the ways in which buyers and decision-makers are using different social networks varies significantly across platforms, with some networks that see a strong B2B tilt on desktop and mobile websites not seeing the same skew for their smartphone applications.

Finally, a section devoted to buyers’ perceptions of content marketing assets reveals the industry resources decision-makers turn to first, as well as the asset types they find most influential at various points of the purchase process.

Containing 21 charts and tables, the Debrief provides important information not only for understanding who B2B buyers and decision-makers are, but also for considering targeted media buys and content assets that can reach and influence them. In focusing on buyers as individuals, the Debrief also serves as a reminder that buyers heavily consider personal value considerations during the purchase process.

About the Data: MarketingCharts is grateful for contributions to this report from comScore and, in particular, Experian Marketing Services.

Experian Marketing Services and comScore data specifying individuals involved in business purchase decisions (totaling at least $1,000 in the previous 6 months for comScore, and $5,000 in the previous 12 months for Experian Marketing Services) are referred to as “B2B buyers,” while those who have authorized purchases are termed “B2B decision-makers.” All Experian Marketing Services and comScore data is limited to the US.

The average amount of yearly business purchases for B2B buyers (among those reporting a purchase total) in the Experian Marketing Services study data is $238,000, and the median $223,000. For B2B decision-makers, those totals were $269,000 and $281,000, respectively. Some 52% of buyers were involved in purchases totaling at least $100k (32% at least $500k). Comparable figures for decision-makers were 60% and 35%, respectively.

Where Summer 2013 study data is provided by Experian Marketing Services it is the most recent available, and reflects a rolling 4-quarter average of survey results. As such, the data is expected to be very consistent with the Fall 2013 study, the full results of which are soon to be released.

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