B2B and B2C: Somewhat Same but Mostly Different

Read an interesting post on why a B2B business should be any different from a B2C one. My thoughts: both do consist of the same elements, have similar objectives, face similar issues, and so on. As much as I like this line of reasoning, the ground reality is that B2B and B2C are very different animals.

In my own experience, I’ve found that the process of creating and selling a B2B product is quite different to the chain of events that come into play when a product is sold directly to the end consumer.

For starters, the B2B customer universe is much smaller than its consumer counterpart. B2B buyers are knowledgeable about a product’s capabilities vis-à-vis its competitors’; they have a reasonable idea of what they need; they go through an elaborate process to take a collective purchasing decision; and they are high value buyers. On the other hand(and this is from my experience on being on the other side of the table much to my husband’s chagrin :) ), customers of B2C companies, may or may not be as knowledgeable, and – unless on a window shopping spree – are looking to make a quick transaction. But the most important difference between the two is the motivation. B2B customers are rational, taking calculated decisions to maximize measurable value. B2C customers are emotional, and seekers of status, prestige and that oh-so-intangible property called “style”. While price is important to both categories of buyers, both will cross that threshold, but under different circumstances – when a business buyer sees that a higher price is set off by gains in efficiency and profitability, as opposed to a retail customer who will pay a premium just to get high on a certain brand.

As a marketer in the B2B space, I’ve learnt that the most important thing here is to build a relationship with the customer, and sustain it over what can be a protracted – oft repeating – sales cycle. If you get that right, it probably means everything else is working fine as well! On the other hand, someone running a B2C product company is likely to focus a lot more on cultivating buzz.

Of course, there are a few similarities as well. Service is paramount in both B2B and B2C marketing, before as well as after the sale is made. So is the reputation and trustworthiness of the supplier. Also, when it comes to adoption of new technology and trends, the lines start to blur. Social media is a case in point; B2C firms have led the way, and B2B companies have quickly followed.  The success of consumer mobile banking has led many banks to develop a similar corporate offering. And the rules of engagement in B2B and B2C e-commerce are probably not all that different. There just isn’t enough said about the importance of brand building in both!

But all that being said, a B2B entrepreneur needs to take a different approach to business than a B2C business owner, not just at the business strategy level but also at that of product development, engagement, marketing and operations.

These are my experiences, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts – comment or mail me!

- By  CustomerXPsCustomerXPs offers real-time, intelligent products that empower banks with instant insights enabling influenced outcomes of deeper customer engagement and fraud-free transactions.

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