While much has been written about selling food and beverage products to millennial consumers, little has been written about millennials in the workforce and how their work habits and preferences may differ from their older co-workers. A new study by the marketing firm Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing explores the challenges of working with this next generation of business-to-business customers.

“We believe that this meta-study will be able to give insight, provide advice and suggest communication tools to accomplish the goal of building these new customer relationships with millennials,” says Mark Hughes, president of A.P.F.I.M.

With an age range between 16 and 36, many millennials are already in the workforce and working their way up through the corporate ranks. While their training may reflect the culture of their current employer, how they approach their day-to-day duties will reflect their comfort with and reliance on such digital tools as texting, social media and many others.

For example, the A.P.F.I.M. study notes 83% of millennials text more than they talk on their phones and recommends when working with them to limit phone calls and in-person meetings, which are considered old fashioned and lead to a decrease in productivity.

The lack of face-to-face engagement means companies must ensure their social media and on-line footprints are engaging, and they must respond quickly to queries and criticisms. There is a good chance a millennial customer may be following a prospective business partner via social media and other on-line tools, and it is important for companies to respond to reviews and tweets directed at a business as well as create an inviting hub for the engagement of customers.

The customer landscape is changing with the millennial generation coming of age, and food ingredient suppliers are being directly affected. Future success may mean adapting to the millennial generation’s preferences for engagement and feedback.

“Millennials now outnumber baby boomers as the largest living generation — they are taking over the workforce,” the study said. “Understanding millennials, how to communicate with them and have relationships with them are key to retaining and gaining new customers.”