Myth-busting Millennial B2B Study Finds Growing Generation of Decision-Makers Prefer Face to Face over Tweets and Texts

Myth-busting Millennial B2B Study Finds Growing Generation of Decision-Makers Prefer Face to Face over Tweets and Texts


Alicia Stetzer

[email protected]

Ketchum Expands B2B Specialty, Leveraging Decades of Award-Winning Marketing and Communications Work

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2019 Every B2B company wants to connect with millennials. They’re the largest generation in the labor force, and their business decision-making and purchasing power is increasing as they rise through the corporate ranks. They’re also known as digital natives who are always online. But what if companies have it all wrong? A new study of B2B millennial decision-makers by global communications consultancy Ketchum busts some popular myths about this coveted 23- to 38-year-old demographic as they emerge as business leaders.

Ketchum’s Face Value: Connecting with B2B Millennials study pokes holes in several myths:

  • Myth: Millennials are exclusively digital-first.
    The study found that 76% of respondents would rather build a personal relationship with a company than read its product emails, and 61% want their new business meetings face to face.
  • Myth: Millennials prefer pixels over people when seeking information.
    Actually, colleagues, industry experts, vendors and academics are all trusted more than online channels or industry events. Millennials even trust friends and family (56%) more than conventional sources such as vendor websites (49%), trade media (47%) or marketing materials (46%).
  • Myth: Millennials are guided solely by a company’s reputation for doing good.
    Close to half (49%) of millennial B2B decision-makers think it’s very important to work with a company that has a strong social purpose. They balance purpose with pragmatism: reliable service (81%) and cost (76%) rank highly.
  • Myth: Millennials prize work-life balance over working hard.
    They’re putting lots of hours on the clock, as close to 40% look at work-related content outside of working hours for 5 or more hours after the work day has ended. They’re always connected – 40% like being “always on” and say it’s part of their personality.

Ketchum’s Face Value: Connecting with B2B Millennials study examines the attitudes, purchase decision influences and communication preferences of the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and the first generation to include digital natives, an increasingly important audience for B2B companies.

“Ketchum’s Face Value study can help B2B marketers and communicators see beyond the stereotypes and understand the need to build high-touch relationships with this growing generation of decision-makers,” said Melissa Kinch, partner and managing director, Technology. “Consumer brands have been gathering insights on millennials for years. We conducted this research because we believe B2B brands need that same depth of insight about their potential buyers.”

When it comes to building relationships with new B2B vendors and partners, millennial buyers do prefer a personal touch. Sixty-one percent prefer face-to-face meetings and 55% like phone calls, while real-time interrupters like instant messaging (15%) and texting (12%), and mass marketing tools like e-newsletters (7%) are a big thumbs-down.

“Digital and social media tactics and purpose initiatives remain important influences on purchase decisions, but the real ROI comes when millennial decision-makers believe you understand them uniquely. Most B2B companies are not yet investing in that level of audience insight or high-touch engagement,” noted Kinch.

Connecting with the #JOMO Generation
Despite a popular assertion that millennials are social media-obsessed and have trouble adapting to the workplace, Ketchum’s study found that this generation seems to be earning its Burnout Generation label. Nearly half say they always bring work home and 68% say they feel like they are “always-on” in their job, even at home. But 4 in 10 say they actually like that feeling and that being always-on is part of their personality. That doesn’t mean marketers should inundate them, though: while 30% prefer reading marketing emails outside of work, 27% say they notice them but ignore them.

“It isn’t easy connecting with a generation that coined the hashtag #JOMO to celebrate the joy of missing out,” said Kinch. “It’s critical to understand what motivates them – content that makes them heroes, delivered to them from companies that align with their values and interact with them as individuals.”

Ketchum’s Face Value playbook gives B2B marketers and communicators a customized, industry-specific approach for engaging millennial decision-makers. Based on a foundation of analytics-driven audience insights, Face Value provides a customized, measurable program that leverages B2B influencers, digital and social channels, and custom content.

Ketchum Expands B2B Specialty
Face Value: Connecting with B2B Millennials is the first research released by Ketchum’s newly expanded B2B specialty, led by partner and managing director Melissa Kinch. Leveraging decades of award-winning B2B marketing and communications work, Ketchum is aligning its B2B experts to support clients within key industry verticals, including Financial & Professional Services, Energy & Industry, Food Agriculture & Ingredient, and Technology.

The specialty team offers the industry’s broadest range of B2B communications and marketing capabilities under a single roof, including analytics, influencer relations, digital strategy, earned and social media, advertising and paid media, video and digital content creation, issues and crisis, and executive visibility.

“Ketchum has a long track record of bringing our award-winning marketing and creative skills to a segment often overshadowed by consumer brands and underserved categories in our industry. Melissa is one of our foremost experts in counseling B2B clients in reputation-building and business expansion, and I am thrilled that the advancement of our B2B capabilities will continue to evolve,” said Barri Rafferty, president and CEO of Ketchum.

To learn more, visit

About Ketchum’s Face Value: Connecting with B2B Millennials Study
Ketchum’s Analytics specialty polled 1,001 current full-time U.S. employees with decision-making and purchasing power, ages 23 to 38. Conducted between Sept. 4, 2019 and Sept. 13, 2019, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 at a 95% confidence level.

About Ketchum
Ketchum is a leading global communications consultancy with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. Holmes Report’s Global Creative Agency of the Year and PRWeek’s Agency of the Past 20 Years, Ketchum is the winner of 105 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented six PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards. Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, visit

About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.