Quick definition: B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing is a business model via which companies market directly to individual buyers.
- B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing directly targets consumers, whereas B2B (business-to-business) marketing involves one business selling directly to another, rather than to a general public.
- For B2C marketers, a big challenge is always staying current with — and ahead of — customer behavioral trends. B2C is fast-paced, and market changes can happen overnight.
- Ultimately, there are many similarities between B2C and B2B marketing models because both involve marketing to human beings. It’s the way that B2C marketers and B2B marketers engage with their targets that’s just a bit different.
- Because of the varying target customer of B2B and B2C companies, tactics used to market to customers and track key customer information may vary.
What is B2C marketing?
“B2C” stands for “business-to-consumer.” It’s a type of business model geared toward individual buyers. This is a common sales model that applies to both brick and mortar and online retailers. The brands that most people are familiar with are probably B2C, for example:
What does “B2B” mean?
“B2B” stands for “business-to-business” and is a type of business model that targets other businesses and business stakeholders as buyers. An example of a B2B business would be a content marketing agency that creates promotional social media content for other companies.
Some B2C companies also use a B2B business model, marketing to both consumers and company stakeholders. Adobe — a company that develops products for both consumers and business decision-makers — is a prominent example of a company using both business models.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C customers?
B2C customers are usually called consumers. A consumer is an individual that purchases goods and services for their needs and wants. Any time someone purchases something for themselves, their family, or a friend — whether it’s a package of cookies or a sports car — they are a consumer. The B2C sales cycle is typically short, with the majority of transactions being one-time purchases, often lower-value than B2B sales.
For B2B companies, the term “customer” is more complicated. They are still targeting buyers, but these buyers are specific decision makers within a company and are usually classified by their role — like chief marketing officer (CMO), chief executive officer (CEO), and chief financial officer (CFO), to name a few. In the end, B2B marketers target key stakeholders within an organization, appealing to overarching company goals. An example B2B transaction could involve a technology business selling software or a service, such as IT security, to an online retailer.
Ultimately, there are many similarities between B2C and B2B marketing, because both involve marketing to human beings. It’s the way these two types of marketers engage with their targets that’s a bit different.
What are some challenges with B2C marketing?
For B2C marketers, a big challenge is always staying current with — and ahead of — customer behavior patterns and preferences. Predictive modeling attempts to forecast market trends and consumer action based on previous behavior. B2C is fast-paced, and market changes can happen overnight. They can shift the tide of what's popular and what's not.
It’s important for B2C marketers to be nimble and to use tools that can help them be more responsive to those market shifts. One thing that can help is using data to fill in the information gaps.
However, keep in mind that not all trackable data will result in meaningful insights. A critical aspect of predictive analytics is to determine what business forecast makes sense in terms of past patterns and what is noise — a change in consumer behavior could be an indication of a shift in their needs, or it could merely represent an anomaly.
Marketers should be able to discern between relevant, slightly relevant, and irrelevant data trends — understanding which are causal and which are merely coincidental.