Younger buyers are more likely to encounter factors that stall or delay a purchase because they tend to have less experience participating in business decisions than older buyers.

Business-to-business buyers are showing greater price sensitivity in purchases in 2023 than in previous years. That’s according to Forrester’s The State of Business Buying, 2023 report. Budget constraints, generational differences and regional practices are some key factors influencing price sensitivity. Inflation and an evolving work force also play a role.

B2B buyers most often cite pricing as the primary reason a B2B purchase either stalls or extends over a longer period. 18% of respondents cited price as the leading reason behind an incomplete or delayed purchase. Another 18% of respondents cited budget constraints as the leading reason for a stalled or delayed purchase. Forrester surveyed more than 18,000 business buyers globally for the report.

Budget constraints are a significant trend, as they make the purchasing process tougher to navigate. Hence, sellers offering price transparency upfront and highlighting their offering’s return on investment are likely to appeal to the preferences and needs of today’s business buyer, the report says.

“When you look at that gap between what buyers are willing to pay and what providers have to charge, that gap became almost insurmountable in some cases,” Amy Hayes, vice president, research director for Forrester.

Many factors can slow B2B purchases

B2B purchases are most likely to stall or delay due to price and budget constraints. However, other factors, and in some cases a combination of factors, also played a role. Overall, 89% of respondents said their purchase stalled for one or more reasons. Just 11% said their purchase did not stall. Other reasons why a B2B purchase was not completed include:

  • the lingering effects of the Covid 19 pandemic (15%)
  • financial negotiation (14%)
  • internal purchasing processes (14%)
  • the inability to build internal consensus on which product to purchase (12%)

“If you think about what’s happening macroeconomically, the lingering effects of COVID, the uncertainty of inflation, the evolving workforce, and the transition from working remotely to coming back to the office, all of these factors I think are starting to come into play when it comes to the reasons why purchase decisions stalled,” Hayes says.

B2B buyers want information

When it comes to the information sought by buyers during the purchasing process, price ranks first. Features and functionality and performance specifications also factor in. “This indicates that [buyers] are going back to basics and thinking less about abstract business concerns — how an offering may fit with future industry trends — which are taking a back seat to questions typically seen in the later phases of the buying cycle,” the report says.

In addition, the report found that buyers prefer to gather information through equal amounts of personal interaction with sales reps and self-service channels, Hayes adds.

Generational differences start to show in B2B buyers

Generational differences are having meaningful influence on buyer behavior, the report shows.


Younger B2B buyers, according to the report, are more likely to encounter factors that lead to a purchasing decision being stalled or delayed. In contrast, when asked what factors might stall or extend a purchase, older buyers were three times more likely not to cite any factors.

Some 71% of respondents were categorized as younger buyers, (Millennials and Generation Z). The remaining 29% were categorized as older buyers, (Gen Xers and Baby Boomers).

One reason younger buyers are more likely to encounter factors that stall or delay a purchase is that they tend to have less experience participating in business decisions than older buyers. Therefore, they need more vendor support to make the purchasing decision.

“Major market shifts and external influencers frequently affected younger buyers, signaling that they may have less decision-making authority than older buyers,” the report says.


17% of younger buyers cited major market shifts as the leading reason a purchase stalled or was delayed. Lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were also cited by 17% of younger respondents.

Younger B2B buyers have difference experiences

One surprising finding in the report is that 13% of younger buyers said a purchase stalled because they were unable to build internal consensus on vendor selection. “That was really telling, [and suggests] younger buyers are perhaps less experienced in making some of these purchase decisions, and perhaps have less sway in the organization to get the entire buying group on board with the decision than older buyers,” says Hayes.

Older buyers are also twice as likely as younger buyers to identify previous experience with a provider as a primary trigger for contacting a vendor for information. Meanwhile, younger buyers cite equal influence from third parties such as industry experts, analysts, consultants to reach out to a provider.

“Organizations must educate and/or enable these third parties — the extended network of valuable people who influence a purchase decision — so that they are equipped with accurate provider and offering information” the report says.


Location of B2B buyers matters

Location of a B2B buyer also plays a role in B2B buying decisions. Buyers in North American (36%) and Europe (33%) are more likely to be influenced by price, compared to buyers in the Asia-Pacific region (27%).

Buyers in the Asia-Pacific region place less emphasis on price than their counterparts in North America and Europe. They instead place a higher premium on trust and relationships with vendors. Some 30% of respondents located in Asia-Pacific say they value existing relationships with vendors and trust they will do a respectable job. 27% of respondents in North America and 24% in Europe said the same.

Buyers in North America also tend to have greater autonomy in making a purchasing decision. 43% said they purchase in independent scenarios, compared to 35% of buyers in Asia-Pacific and 29% of buyers in Europe. Forrester defines buying scenarios as purchasing decisions made by one or two people or one or two departments.

“[Independent buying decisions] are often made in less than two months and it is usually for something less than $50,000. There are more of those kinds of purchases in North America than in other parts of the world” says Hayes. “I think if you look at some of the cultural differences between regions, the Asian countries in particular tend to have more of a consensus driven decision making environment.”


Peter Lucas is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy.

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