Be it B2B or B2C, selling has changed and that too drastically. When comparing the two sectors, you find the most dramatic changes in the B2C sector. B2C (Business–to-Consumer Sales) and B2B (Business-to-Business) Sales have been long seen as separate markets that require distinctly different marketing strategies. So what are these differences?
Let’s take a look-
B2B v B2C
A. Key motivators that affect a buying decision.
The motivators that affect buying are widely variant for both fields- In business purchasing, buyers strive to be sure that their purchase is based as much as possible on rational, fact-based analysis. Buyers consider questions like will it increase profits? Will it aid measurable productivity? Does it improve the satisfaction of a specific stakeholder? This approach leads to a longer buying cycle as opposed to B2C.
On the other hand, consumer decision-making is not constrained by these narrow parameters. Variable factors like desire, style, prestige, and aspiration, as well as price and suitability may drive consumers. Oftentimes, the consumer herself may not be able to articulate why she bought Product A over Product B. Nor may she even care. “ I just like it better” can be a perfectly good justification for a purchase.
B. Number of decision-makers
In consumer sales, the decision-maker is generally an individual. And she is free to be driven by whatever motivators that matter to her at that particular moment. This may slightly change in case of a joint purchase- for instance a couple buying a car, or friends buying a gift for someone.
In a business environment however, the existence of multiple decision-makers almost always characterizes business purchasing, except in perhaps the most mundane areas. There will be an array of individuals who will have strictly defined and rational criteria to evaluate the product. Also, because decision-making is a group project, each person serves as a check against the other, in case anyone is tempted to stray toward non-relevant criteria.
With the exceptions of cars, and possibly major appliances, consumer purchases have generally low value, especially compared to business sales. I mean, no one searches the web to do an in-depth search for best value in a bottle of water at a grocery. Due to this, consumer purchasing can also occur more quickly, so the sales cycle is faster than in business.
Business purchasing is slower, partly due to the factor of multiple decision-makers.The time from the initiation of an evaluation to a decision can easily stretch into months or longer. However, the process is also slowed to ensure rational decision-making because the consequences are generally more serious. It is a scheduled, deliberative process.
Imagine that you need a can of tomatoes to make dinner tonight. That decision can’t be pushed out a week for study. Or you want to buy clothes for an upcoming party, you will walk into a mall, check out your favorite stores and pick from one of them. My point is, in B2C, there is little consultative selling available for all but the most complex purchases.
In business, branding has distinctly limited value, since buyers demand data and evidence. At most, brand identity may get a vendor in the door, but at that point brand declines in value. A brand name won’t increase profits—only an effective product will.
In summary, this is a list of key factors that characterize B2B and B2C.
Significantly, these factors have been fairly static for decades. Marketers have long recognized the key differences discussed here and understood them to be the stable bedrock that defines the landscape of these two different types of sales.
Recently, however, new technology is undermining that landscape in dramatic ways. And its effects have been most transformative in B2C sales. Most significant has been the arrival of Big Data and mobile technologies. Big Data because it opens a window into the historically hidden motivations that drive individual consumers, and mobile because of the “real-time” consumer access it gives marketers.