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Millennials: The New B2B Decision Makers in the Food Industry and How to Reach Them Online

As the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, millennials (generally defined as people born between 1980 and the early 2000s) hold a lot of power in the business world. With nearly 73 percent of millennials involved in purchasing decisions for their companies, they have become an important audience for B2B food ingredient marketing—and their coworkers value their insight. More than half of millennials said that people seek them out for their knowledge and opinions, compared with only 35 percent of boomers. By taking the time to observe and engage with this powerful demographic, you will be better equipped to retain current customers and gain new ones.

When it comes to marketing to millennial B2B decision makers, one of the best places to start is social media. After all, it’s where they spend most of their time, and it’s where they go to seek out new information. The following focus areas serve as valuable benchmarks to help you attract, retain and engage with this powerful and influential target audience.

Authenticity
Millennials are different than any other generation. They communicate, make decisions and buy in ways that are unique to their generation. Millennials are also very insightful. They can easily identify when advertisers are giving it to them straight and when they are not. Therefore, it is important to be authentic with your messaging if you want to engage with the new class of B2B decision makers. When possible, share testimonials, case studies, white papers and infographics through B2B social media to establish credibility and value. The more supporting resources and content you have to tell your brand story, the more likely this audience will be to value your brand.

Convenience
As the most tech-savvy generation in history, millennials are extremely active online. They frequently follow and seek out the opinions of social media influencers almost as much as—if not more than—they do their friends or family. To ensure your messaging reaches and resonates well with this demographic of buyers, consider implementing B2B social media strategies that focus on simple messaging with fresh, timely content that is easy to access. Additionally, adding visual content to your B2B social media communication can help you reach millennial decision makers and deliver relevant information in a convenient format.

Credibility
As mentioned, millennials—including those with decision-making power—are more likely to be influenced by their peers than advertisers or the media. In fact, 23 percent of older millennials said they are more likely not to purchase or do business with brands that their friends disapprove of, as opposed to only 12 percent of boomers. Millennials are also more likely to turn to social media to share their gratification (and negative feedback) about brands online. By capitalizing on the influence of millennials on social media, you can gain trust and buy-in from today’s B2B decision makers.

Values
Millennials like to connect their actions to social causes. As a result, food ingredient brands that share their sustainable practices, implement mission-driven strategies or publicly give back to their communities are more likely to attract millennial purchasers. In fact, 37 percent say they are willing to pay more for a brand that supports a cause they believe in. As a food ingredient marketer, you have an opportunity to publicize the do-good values of your company. For example, does your organization practice business sustainably and ethically? Consider blogging about it and sharing it on your B2B social media platforms. Has your team participated in some type of community service event recently? Don’t be afraid to post pictures on your company’s social media feeds, and encourage your employees to share the posts across their personal accounts for greater reach and brand recognition.

At the end of the day, millennials want relevant information they can digest quickly, and the easiest way for them to access this information is through B2B social media. By taking steps to ensure your messaging is authentic, convenient (i.e., accessible on the go), credible and purposeful, you will be more likely to attract, retain and engage with the newest generation of B2B decision makers for food ingredient purchases.

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