Jessica La

B2B vs. B2C: Definitions, Examples, Differences, and Similarities

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Both B2B and B2C transactions involve customers buying from a company. But the two types of customers take different paths to purchase. So the marketing and sales approaches for these two models differ significantly. 

For example, B2B marketers appeal to their customers’ logical thinking, while B2C marketers appeal to emotions.

Marketers must understand B2B and B2C differences to create and execute effective marketing strategies. And that’s the basis for making this guide. I’ll walk you through the differences between these two models with examples.

But first, let’s defined these two terms.

What is B2B?

B2B is an abbreviation for business-to-business, meaning commercial transactions between businesses. It involves businesses that market and sell their products or services to other businesses. 

For example, a supplier selling wholesale products to a small business. Or a SaaS company that provides email list management software.  

B2B marketers target key decision-makers in organizations like department heads and business owners. A B2B marketer must determine the best person to reach out to and create marketing copy that shows how their product/service will impact a company’s bottom line. 

B2B has the following characteristics:

  • Marketers target a business’s short and long-term challenges;
  • It mainly involves bulk orders and long-term contracts;
  • Purchasing decisions involve several people, so it takes longer to close these deals;
  • Business buyers follow formalized processes to handle transactions.
  • An emphasis on investment ROI 

An example of business to business

Alibaba is one of the biggest B2B eCommerce platforms that connects small businesses to suppliers. A business relationship between a supplier and a retailer or a manufacturer and a supplier is B2B. 

Similarly, Hubspot is a B2B SaaS (software-as-a-service) company that sells software products for sales, marketing, and customer service to other companies. Of course, nobody stops individuals from using the product, but that’s rarely the case because Hubspot concentrates on creating solutions for other businesses.   

What is B2C?

B2C is an abbreviation for business-to-consumer, which involves marketing and selling products or services to end consumers. They’re mostly one-time purchases compelled by emotions. We’re talking about clothing stores, Etsy stores, supermarkets, art supplies, and anything else that can be bought to be used by individuals for their personal needs. 

The key difference between B2B and B2C target audiences is the number of people involved and the length of the decision-making process. In order to buy a book for yourself, you don’t need to ask anyone for permission or go through a long process of negotiating and understanding the purpose of the book, the author, etc. You just go in and buy the book. 

Whereas with companies and enterprises, people rarely make individual decisions for big purchases. In that case, everyone needs to be involved, and other factors are a priority, such as revenue, long-term use, etc. 

Though B2C products and services are always in high demand, competition is equally high. So, B2C requires creative marketing strategies. 

B2C characteristics are:

  • There are many possible buyers
  • Informal buying processes and decision making
  • Lower cost of entry
  • Low purchase volume
  • Short sales cycles since customers may purchase only once

An example of B2C

A relationship between a retailer and the end consumer is B2C. For example, Amazon is a B2C e-commerce website where consumers purchase items like electronics and clothes for personal use. Still, Amazon is also a B2B company because it allows third-party retailers to list their items on the website.

Similarly, a dating site with a premium subscription is B2C, and all the retail stores you have on your street are B2C. 

Now that we have the main definitions out of the way, let’s look at the differences between B2B vs B2C.

Key differences between B2B and B2C

The main difference between B2B and B2C is the audience. A B2B buyer uses the product/service to earn more revenue or cut costs to improve the bottom line, while a B2C buyer consumes the product/service. 

Below are the major differences between the two: 

1. Customer relationships

The B2B customer relationship is long-term, with a long buying cycle. So it takes longer to build. B2B sellers reveal their personality, brand, and position in the market while giving the decision-maker detailed information (white papers, product demos, etc.) to decide if the product is a good investment. And after getting a prospect’s contacts, the selling company still invests in building personal relationships with the decision-makers.  

In contrast, B2C focuses on short-term relationships and impulse buys. Since it’s a short-term relationship, you must establish a lasting memory through quality service for the customers to return. 

B2C relationships are easier to build, while B2B relationships take longer; therefore, B2B requires a more organized offline and digital marketing strategy.

2. Company branding

B2B focuses on positioning a brand as an authority to generate leads, while B2C focuses on increasing brand recognition to make sales. Since the purchasing decision involves more than one person in B2B, the selling company needs to prove its credibility with facts, solid numbers (e.g., customer base, years in business, and research reports), online reviews, awards, etc.

In contrast, B2C brands could easily get away with solid advertising and a consistent content marketing strategy. 

3. Decision making

B2B buyers are rational and organized, and they’re part of a committee that makes decisions for the whole organization. So a B2B marketer must have logical arguments. In contrast, B2C buyers are mainly individual consumers that make purchasing decisions based on emotions. They develop interest from your ad copy and other promotional content and eventually buy your products. 

Both B2B and B2C companies must ensure their products and services solve the buyers’ needs because that is the best way to build a trusting relationship. 

4. Potential customer targeting 

The primary goal in B2B is lead generation, so you must research the target companies and their decision-makers using lead generation tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator

But in B2C, you market directly to individual end-users by understanding what they look for to solve their day-to-day challenges. You collect data through: 

5. Customers’ terminologies

B2B uses industry terminologies, while B2C uses everyday language in the voice of the potential customer. B2B marketing content is mostly formal, while B2C marketing content is casual and conversational. 

Similarities between B2B and B2C

From the above definitions and differences between B2B and B2C, you can learn the following similarities: 

  • You need to establish a good relationship with potential customers through trust and credibility
  • You must offer solutions to your audience’s problems 
  • You have the option to elongate the B2B and B2C journeys even after the purchase. You can retain B2B customers by engaging them with newsletters and offers. On the other hand, a B2C customer can come back if your products favor them.
  • You need to provide customers with consistent and aligned marketing messaging to avoid confusion and gain loyalty. 

B2B and B2C: Final words

B2B targets companies that either resell the product or use a service to generate more revenue. The purchase decision involves several stakeholders, but B2C targets the end consumer- the decision maker. Therefore, most B2C marketers appeal to the end consumer’s emotions. 

In B2C and business-to-business marketing, there needs to be a clear understanding of the target audience, their challenges, and how a product/service will solve the problem. Marketers can then create content that attracts, engages, and converts the targeted buyer persona.

If you’re considering moving from B2C to B2B marketing, get ready to work with corporate people who understand numbers. What’s the ROI for investing in your solution? 

Nonetheless, no amount of preparation will beat experience. So start right now with what you have; you’ll learn as you go. If you have specific questions regarding your business, get in touch with me.

Good luck!

Jessica La 

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Thanks for reading!

Jessica La

Content Marketing Consultant

Hi, I’m Jessica 👋 — I work with SaaS companies to implement effective Content Marketing strategies to drive organic blog growth and conversions.

 I’m greatly enthusiastic about building content driven by data and meaningful human narratives.

For me, it goes beyond reducing storytelling to brand data – I’m a stickler for uncovering the ‘why’ so that your product is noticed by the people who care.

ByJessicaLa was created as an experimental playground for SEO, Content, and Link Building. 

I write practical content that serves marketers, bloggers, and industry leaders.

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