Difference between B2C and B2B marketing

What’s the difference betweeen B2C and B2B marketing? Fundamentally, the marketing strategy and techniques are focused on attracting two completely different target audiences.

Business to business marketing

B2B refers to businesses that are focused on serving other businesses as their customers. Some examples include manufacturing equipment, specialist software, and services for transport fleets.

Business to consumer marketing

B2C marketing refers to businesses that are focused on meeting the needs and interests of customers who are individuals. In a nutshell, they sell to everybody but professionals.

Think soap, clothings stores, and gaming consoles. While these brands may also appeal to businesses, the bulk of their potential customers comes from individual consumers, and their marketing reflects that. 

Let’s look further at the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing, particularly how to conduct research for these two distinct audiences or groups, and the different types of research method used.

Business to business market research

Organisations that sell to other businesses need to know about their customers. So B2B market research will reveal vital information about your potential customer.

This includes data about the size and structure of organisation, the risks and opportunities that they face from competitors, as well as market trends.

The research will also identify the roles that make the purchasing decisions relevant to your product or service.

At Acumen, our B2B market research often involves finding similar individuals in a purchasing decision role, and using qualitative research methodology to find out what influences the buying decision to purchase services/goods like yours.

Business to consumer market research

Market research for B2C marketing is a broad field that makes use of secondary and primary research. This means that some of the useful data accumulated to form a marketing strategy comes from secondary sources like internet research or trade journals to find out more about the competitors and the people who buy your goods and services.

Secondary research

These are all information sources that already exist, and this type of research can be low cost (though time intensive).

A member of staff can undertake this reasearch, without market research experience. They may use pre-existing business research, product pages on competitors’ sites, and look at the key messaging in ad copy for similar products or services, for example.

Primary research

Primary research methods means first-time reasearch in a particular field, and this often means getting professional help from a market research company like Acumen to design questionnaires, surveys, hall tests, focus groups or user testing.

These methods will provide you with specific data from consumers in your target audience that will help you understand them better and design the right marketing tactics for your organisation.

Market research for any target audience

Acumen is a market research company that covers all the bases to back-up your B2B and B2C marketing with data and insights. We offer a full suite of market research services for B2B and B2C businesses.

Acumen’s research services

Our award winning fieldworkers are skilled at all types of quantitative and qualitative market research services. We have a database of more than 100,00 reseach participants, and our own bespoke screening method to ensure participants meet your exact criteria.

Specialists in B2B marketing strategy data

Our B2B market reasearch team has 15 years collective experience in fieldwork and data analysis to provide you with the insights you need about your potential B2B customers.

We have a database of research participants who are decision makers in a range of industries, familiar with the buying process for your organisation’s goods or services.

Get in touch with us to discuss your B2C or B2B marketing project – CONTACT US.

Research methods for B2B and B2C marketing

To devise effective marketing strategies for B2B and B2C sales, you need to understand your potential customers. How do they think and behave and what are their needs when they are making a purchase decision?

Many B2C marketing plans need to make an emotional appeal to consumers in order to be effective in its primary goal and persuade the individual to purchase your goods or services.

To do this, you need to understand your consumers and know how your brand fits into their everyday lives or their needs.

There are two ways to do this through market research that fall under the categories of quantitative marketet research and qualitative market research.

What is the difference? Here is a quick overview:

Quantitative research explained

For B2B and B2C marketing, quantitative research looks at your potential customers as a group, and finds data in numbers that give insights into the customers’ needs and behaviours.

Taking a B2B example: If your customer is a fleet manager for a supermarket chain, it may be relevant to do a survey of fleet managers to ask what influences their decision making, what advertising they find effective, which brands their trust most.

Anything that’s an important factor in their decision making process could be examined more closely via a survey, which will provide quantitative data for you to use in your marketing strategies.

Qualitative research for B2B and B2C marketing

Qualitative research provides more in-depth, personal insights, usually from speaking to people directly or asking them open-ended questions in surveys. Research methods where you observe a person’s behaviour, such as accompanied shops and user testing, also provide qualitative data.

Whereas quantitative research deals in facts and figures, qualitative research can have many nuances to it. Both rely on skilled and experienced analysists to make meaningful sense of the data and translate it into useful marketing plans.

Staying with a B2B example, if you ask someone who is a decision maker why their purchase goods or services similar to yours, you will get a number of reasons that are personal to them. There is likely to be cross over with people in similar roles, and this will be valuable territory where you can focus your sales efforts.

B2B vs B2C marketing: Summary

Once you’ve understood that the fundamental differences between these two types of marketing lie in the customer and the product, the rest is all very similar.

B2B marketing is aimed at other businesses, or individual within other businesses who are part of the decision making process or buying cycle within a business for your product.

And the B2C marketing target audience is the individual consumer.

The products offered to both types of customer tend to vary too, with B2B products being more specialist, with less emotional appeal. They are often aimed at increasing efficiency, productivity or health and safety.

Work with Acumen

At Acumen, we have a specialist B2B market research team who can work with your B2B marketing teams and provide the data to underpin your marketing strategy and tactics.

At the same time, we excel at all forms of market research, to unlock the insights and data you need for your B2C marketing to sell to the potential customers of your brand.

Get in touch with us for a quote or a conversation about how we can help with your B2B and B2C marketing.


About us

We are an award-winning agency who works with brands and businesses to provide essential market research for relationship building between you and your consumers.

We have international reach, and specialisms in Healthcare and B2B and social market research, which makes us stand out among the competition.

We work closely with our clients on briefs, advising and informing them every step along the way.

We would love to work with you on your B2B or B2C marketing, so get in touch to start a working relationship that will grow with your company.

Call 0161 234 9940 or use the CONTACT FORM on our website.