Understanding Generational Preferences in Manufacturing Purchasing

Published on September 26, 2023

It’s important for manufacturers to understand the unique and evolving preferences that each generation has when it comes to finding and purchasing products. 

This blog is broken into two parts, generational buyers and the implications on manufacturing. The outline looks like this:

Part 1: Buyer Generations

  • Gen X
  • Millennials
  • Gen Z

Part 2: Implications for Manufacturers

  • Embracing digital transformation
  • Personalizing the sales approach
  • Focusing on trust and social responsibility

We’re going to explore the generational dynamics of corporate buyers and their preferred methods for discovering and acquiring goods and services, as well as cover the implications this has on manufacturers.

Part 1: Buyer Generations

By understanding the nuances of these buying behaviors, manufacturers can tailor their approaches and strategies to effectively engage with their target audience.

Generation X

Date of Birth: 1965–1980

Generation X professionals in the manufacturing industry often rely on trusted sources such as industry publications, professional networks, and referrals to discover new products and vendors.

They appreciate personalized interactions, including in-person meetings and phone calls, to discuss their specific needs and negotiate deals.

While digital channels still play a role in informing buying decisions, manufacturers should not neglect the importance of traditional methods when engaging with this generation of buyers.


Date of Birth: 1981-1996

Millennial buyers in manufacturing are digital natives who heavily rely on online resources and research before making purchasing decisions.

They value transparency, ease of use, and seamless digital experiences. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, search engines, and industry forums are crucial for their product discovery process.

To effectively engage with millennials, manufacturers must establish a strong online presence, optimize their websites, and leverage social media channels.

Communication channels such as email, live chat, and video conferences are also effective for engaging with Millennial buyers.

Generation Z

Date of Birth: 1997-2010

As the youngest generation in the manufacturing workforce, Gen Z brings a unique set of preferences. They are digitally savvy, socially conscious, and highly mobile-oriented.

Generation Z buyers leverage mobile apps, social media influencers, and online reviews to research and discover products. This group of buyers is also conscious of trends and other socially constructed buying patterns.

While certain manufacturers may feel like influencers or social media marketing is not part of their strategy, it should be explored as a possible channel for extending brand reach – even if it is a less traditional form of marketing in the manufacturing industry.

Gen Z appreciates streamlined, user-friendly interfaces and quick responses to their inquiries. To connect with Gen Z buyers, manufacturers should streamline their websites and utilize platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, or even messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Embracing digital transformation, going beyond what your competition is doing, and providing a seamless mobile experience are key to engaging with this generation.

Part 2: Implications for Manufacturers

Understanding generational preferences in manufacturing purchasing can help manufacturers adapt their strategies to effectively engage with their target audience. Here are a few key factors to consider and implement in your strategies:

Embracing Digital Transformation

Manufacturers must embrace digital tools and platforms to meet the preferences of Millennials and Generation Z.

Establishing a strong online presence, optimizing websites for mobile devices, and leveraging social media channels are essential for reaching these generations effectively.

An up-to-date website that provides valuable information and user-friendly navigation is vital to showcase products and services and reinforce credibility in the buyer’s eyes.

Personalizing the Sales Approach

Tailoring the sales approach to each generation’s preferences is crucial. Generation X may prefer in-person meetings and personalized interactions, while Millennials and Gen Z buyers appreciate self-service options and value authenticity.

Personalization can be achieved through targeted messaging, customized content, and relevant recommendations based on their specific needs and interests.

Use modern tools on your website and social profiles to make it easy for buyers to engage with you before meeting.

Focusing on Trust and Social Responsibility

Millennials and Gen Z buyers place high value on trust and social responsibility. Manufacturers can build trust by showcasing their expertise, providing transparent information, and aligning their offerings with the buyers’ ethical and environmental considerations.

Demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility can positively influence their purchasing decisions. Share your stories on your website and across your social media.

By understanding the generational preferences in manufacturing purchasing, companies can refine their strategies and effectively engage with corporate buyers.

Adapting to the digital landscape, personalizing the sales approach, and focusing on trust and social responsibility are key to building lasting relationships and securing successful deals with different generations of buyers.

Embracing digital marketing techniques and maintaining an up-to-date website are crucial components in driving business growth in the ever-evolving manufacturing landscape.

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