B2B vs B2C: 14 Key Differences To Consider

There are countless marketing ideas, tactics, tools, strategy, and technologies available today. While it can certainly help marketers to achieve their goals better, they also often add to the confusion. So, when talking about B2C and B2B marketing, the different ideas and principles behind the two are often mixed up with each other.

In this article, we will discuss some of the key differences between B2C and B2B marketing, which will help you in planning the right tactics and choosing the right tools for the job.

Let us begin


1. Logic VS Emotions

This is arguably the most conceptual, and also the most important difference between B2C and B2B marketing: in a B2C environment, our marketing efforts are mainly directed to appeal the emotional triggers of your prospects. B2B advertising and promotions are commonly focused on how a product or service can benefit a customer.

On the other hand, the purchase decisions of  B2B customers are mostly logical, and B2B marketers must generally convince their prospects with technical or professional information. B2B marketers can’t solely make their argument based on product benefits, but also on ROI. B2B purchasers often must consult with other stakeholders before they can make a purchase. So, B2B marketing materials should be strong in logical level, data-backed values, and financial benefits.


2. Market Size

B2B markets are generally smaller than a B2C market in the same industry, and B2B markets are also more vertical in nature. On average, the market size can range between just a few thousand leads to around a hundred thousands of prospects.

On the other hand, B2C markets are generally larger, targeting the mass consumers which can have a size between tens of thousands to millions of potential leads.


3. Sales Process and Cycle

The B2C sales can involve a retailer or directly to the customer.  Most of us have been a B2C buyer at some point, and so it’s highly likely we are familiar with the sales process, which is typically just convincing customers with product benefits, discounts, or other offers.

A B2B sales process, on the other hand, is generally more complicated. A purchase is often only made when three important factors are fulfilled: the product provides a specific solution to the buyer’s needs, the investment is justified with proper ROI, and there is a certain level of trust. Also, depending on whether it’s a repeat purchase, distribution issues might also be major considerations.


4. In-Depth VS Brief Contents

B2C customers, in most cases, prefer contents that are entertaining, engaging, and comprehensive. The key qualities they are looking for is usefulness and shareability, and so brief, value-driven contents are preferable in the B2C environment.

On the other hand, B2B customers generally prefer detailed, technical, and in-depth contents with a lot of information. It is important for B2B marketers to communicate the product features, benefits, and specs in their contents so that B2B customers have access to the necessary information for making a purchase decision.


5. Relationship and Brand Loyalty

Maintaining brand loyalty for a B2C business is increasingly difficult nowadays. The B2B customers do not necessarily prefer a close relationship with a certain brand. Most of the time, B2B customers only make a purchase once in a while and share contents when they are really interesting. So, as mentioned above, it is very important to publish shareable, engaging contents.

On the other hand, relationship nurturing in a B2B setting is far more essential. Often, we need to maintain close relationships with several different buyers within a single industry to keep their loyalty. Constantly providing value and maintaining interaction should be your main goals as a B2B marketer.


6. One-Time VS Contract-Based Purchase

B2B purchases are mainly contract or subscription-based, which can last for several months to years. So, the overall value and impact of a B2B purchase decision are very significant: a single purchase can generally bring a more significant revenue compared to a consumer product.

So, while B2C marketing activities are mostly about finding new prospects and distribution channels, B2B marketing tend (and should) put more focus on building long-term relationships to increase customer retention. This is also tied to the fact above, that the B2B market size is generally smaller, each customer must be optimized to bring a larger purchase volume.


7. Customer Acquisition Cost

Generally, the cost to acquire a purchase in a B2B setting is significantly higher than in a B2C counterpart. There are several different factors that might cause this: from the length of the sales cycle to the fact that we must often convince several decision makers in a single organization before a purchase can finally happen. The B2B customer acquisition cost can range between just a few thousand to tens of millions of dollars.

While there are B2C products with high customer acquisition costs, which are mainly high-value products like cars, real estate, and other luxury items, generally the cost of a B2C sale is below $10,000 per purchase and can be as low as just a few dollars.


8. Customer Attention

While it is debatable whether our fleeting attention span is a fact or myth, B2C consumers are generally unwilling to spend a lot of time on contents before making a purchase. So, in a B2C environment, the marketing materials should be designed to capture attention instantaneously to encourage a quick purchase decision.

On the other hand, B2B buyers are willing -often a job requirement- to spend time on understanding every detail of a product or service. So, B2B marketing materials should be able to retain the prospect’s attention while providing in-depth information that can educate them.


9. Attitude Towards Complexity

B2C consumers tend to look for simplicity and ease of use of consumer products. So, a complicated user experience should be avoided, because it can have a significant impact on conversion.

On the other hand, complex, complicated products that require a longer process are common in the B2B environment. This is especially true if the product is set up for multiple users with different features and personalizations. Also, many B2B buyers are more willing to accept complicated payment processes including extended credit, subscription-based payment, and so on.


10. Segmentation

B2B markets are highly segmented, and so B2C marketers often rely on predictive analytics to have an in-depth customer profile, allowing hyper-personalization. In a B2B environment, we are often faced with how different decision makers will require different approaches and personalized messages, and so a deeper level of customer research is necessary.

On the other hand, B2C markets are often really broad. Some consumer products can even target huge markets such as “post-millennials” or “soccer moms”. So, generally, a generalized approach is preferred (and more affordable). However, with new technologies like chatbots and behavioral analysis, B2C personalization is now getting some traction.


11. Education VS Entertainment

B2C consumers generally purchased a product for their personal benefits or to elevate their social status. So, special deals and entertainment are most of the time, the most effective way to capture their attention.

On the other hand, B2B buyers are seeking for career recognition by the performance at their jobs, and so many B2B products are designed to help them achieve that feat. So, the main way to gain customers’ trusts in the B2B environment is by giving the prospects valuable and relevant information. This way, B2B businesses should act as a partner to help customers excel in their careers.


12. Immediate VS Long-Term Needs

B2C consumers generally purchase something for an immediate need: we need a new entertainment then we buy a ticket to a movie. We ran out of soap, and so we buy one, et cetera. So, often the purchase decision of a consumer is immediate within just a few minutes, this is even truer today when we can buy virtually anything online. So, the B2C marketing message is often about ease of use, convenience, and instant gratification.

On the other hand, since the B2B purchases often involve longer sales cycle, the marketing efforts required often involve nurturing relationships by answering their long-term needs continually.


13. Brand Awareness VS Retention

B2C marketing efforts are often centered on building brand awareness. The B2C market is often very saturated, and so it is very important to get your brand known.

Yet, while brand awareness is also important in a B2B setting, generally B2B marketers put more focus on giving the best customer experience to increase retention. This is because the B2B market size, as mentioned above, is relatively smaller, and losing a single existing customer can cause a significant impact, more than in a B2C environment.

While customer satisfaction is also important for B2C consumers, generally a radical measure is not necessary unless a complaint went viral in social media or in a similar situation.


14. Industry-Specific Copy

For B2C consumers, a simpler, relatable content is generally preferred while overly-technical terms are avoided.

On the other hand, B2B marketers can -and often required to- use technical, industry-specific terms to convince B2B decision makers. This is not solely done to increase authority, but using technical terms everyone in the industry recognizes can allow us to create in-depth content without using too many words.

About the author

Mike is a lead SEO strategist at Nine Peaks Media. With over 10+ years of experience in SEO and Inbound Marketing, he helped hundreds of B2B and SaaS businesses rank on the first page of Google.