Businesses buying from other businesses are concerned about the cost of purchases today, tomorrow and in the long run, a new business survey confirms.
Companies evaluating their next purchase want to see product specification information, and they want to be able to access that information online from smart phones and mobile devices.
And a video demonstrating the product on sale wouldn’t hurt, either.
Those are some of the conclusions from a survey of 443 business decision-makers across the nation, conducted by the University of Dayton Research Group and TriComB2B, a Dayton marketing firm specializing in business-to-business marketing of technical products and services.
The survey is aimed squarely at sellers who want to know what potential buyers are thinking, said Chris Eifert, a TriComB2B principal.
It’s the second such survey from UD and TriComB2B seeking to find out what the B2B buyer involved in big purchases is thinking. The first was conducted in 2011.
The importance of price, now and in the future, was reaffirmed. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said 60 percent or more of their purchase decisions are “dominated” by the immediate purchase price, a summary of survey results said.
But buyers also have an eye on future costs — a product’s operating and energy costs, maintenance, liabilities and more. Just over half of respondents, 51 percent, indicated that at least 60 percent of the time, the “total cost of ownership” had been calculated in their buying decisions.
“The significant majority are thinking about elements of the total cost of ownership as a critical thing,” said Richard Stock, who leads UD’s Business Research Group. “So it is worth your while to think about where your product stands on those various aspects of ownership.”
There are engineers trained to think in total cost of ownership, Stock noted. They evaluate whether a product will reduce or raise insurance rates, for example.
The survey did not measure whether business leaders are planning more or bigger purchases. The focus is on what they seek as they approach the next purchase.
Buyers are calculating all costs, and they’re even doing that for less expensive products, Eifert said. That scrutiny is only growing when it comes to the purchase price tag.
“The price level at which that total cost analysis is taking place seems to have dropped significantly in the last couple of years,” Eifert said. “It seems to us that smaller purchases now are being analyzed.”
What buyers aren’t necessarily focused on is a product’s “green” status. Just 32 percent of respondents said evidence of a sustainable or environmentally friendly supply chain mattered to them. And that hasn’t changed from the earlier survey, TriCom said.
“Messages around a sustainable and green supply chain and green manufacturing processes really doesn’t resonate with the buyers,” Eifert said.
To market to businesses, the importance of video is growing. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents see video as a tool in making a purchase decision.
That means putting videos online, first on the seller’s website, then on other places online — LinkedIn or a You Tube channel, perhaps.
“We’re not entirely surprised by that,” Eifert said. “The ability to put video online has become so much easier, and (purchase decision-making) audiences are getting younger.”
An online presence is also key, especially mobile-ready or -friendly websites that can be accessed with smart phones. Blogs and LinkedIn is more prized than either Twitter or Facebook in the B2B arena, the survey found.
“People who have grown up online are coming into the decision-making age groups, especially this 30-39 set,” Eifert said.