In our recent surveys of distributors on how they approach marketing, we found that many recognize they need to adapt to changing customer demographics – but they’re not sure how.

In a survey of Industrial Supply’s readers, one respondent said it well: “The digital capability of these emerging generations will require digital mastery by distribution to sustain relevance.”

The truth is: The “next” generation is here now. The oldest Millennials are 36; many are moving into or are already in decision-making positions. Distributors must change their marketing approach – whether they’re ready or not. The problem: Many aren’t. Respondents to our latest survey said that social media, search-engine marketing and email were all priorities, but they weren’t using them at a frequency in line with best practices. Instead, distributors continue to excel in print and in-person channels, such as trade shows and catalogs.

Distributors need to structure their go-to-market strategy around Millennials’ and Gen Z’s shopping and buying habits. They need to employ an omnichannel approach to serving their customers, and that includes embracing digital tools. Distributors that do will gain a significant edge in their markets for the long haul.

Read more about the state of distributor marketing in this article by Jonathan Bein for Industrial Supply magazine.