According to the study, 46% of potential buyers researching b-to-b products are millennials today, up from 27% in 2012. They're now the biggest generational group researching b-to-b products for potential purchase. "We saw a big shift in a two-year time span in the number of millennials that are in the b-to-b purchase path," said Mike Miller, Google's director of business and industrial markets.
The data comes from more than 3,000 interviews conducted in 2014 and Millward Brown's multi-million person panel of internet users who allow the collection of their browsing behavior. Mr. Miller said he believes millennial influence is growing as the baby boomer generation moves toward retirement age. He also cited overall economic growth as a factor bringing more millennials into b-to-b businesses.
Google also studied the digital behaviors of those participating in b-to-b buying decisions and found a big shift in mobile usage. Thirty-four percent of people involved in the b-to-b buying decisions in 2014 used their mobile devices across each stage of the purchase. In 2012, the number was 18%. Mr. Miller said he believes the increase indicates more b-to-b marketers are buying on mobile devices, as opposed to just researching there.
The study also found that mobile devices aren't only being used at home. "Nearly half of b-to-b researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work," said Google in a blog post highlighting the study. The phones are being used for price and product comparison and to contact retailers, the post said.
Video saw a similar transformation. Seventy percent of those researching b-to-b products and services now use video across the purchase path, according to Google. That's up from 46% in 2012. Google also said more than 895,000 hours of YouTube videos produced by a selection of top b-to-b brands were watched in 2014, a number the company is releasing for the first time.