B2B Marketing World

B2B vs B2C

Understanding B2B and B2C: A complete guide on Markets, Customers, and Marketing Strategies, including Differences and Similarities

Are you confused about the difference between B2B and B2C? You’re not alone, as many people need help understanding the nuances of these two market types. B2B stands for Business-to-Business, and B2C for Business-to-Consumer. This comprehensive guide will break down the key differences and similarities between B2B B2C.

From understanding the markets, customers, and marketing strategies that define each to learning about successful examples of B2B and B2C companies, this guide provides you with everything you need to know about B2C vs B2B. You also get a clear understanding of how to approach B2B and B2C marketing.

So, if you’re ready to take your business or marketing skills to the next level, keep reading because this guide is your key to understanding B2B B2C like a pro.

3 Highlights of this Article:

  • What is B2B and B2C
  • Differences and Similarities of B2B vs B2C
  • B2C vs B2B: Marketing Strategies, Marketing Mix, Marketing Channels
  • No time? [TL;DR] Read Summary

Post: B2B vs B2C
By Categories: Definition39 min readLast Updated: October 24th, 2023
Chapter 1

What is B2B? What is B2C?

Understand B2B and B2C, Their Characteristics and Definitions

In the business world, there are two main markets that companies deal with: B2B and B2C. B2B, or “Business-to-Business,” refers to companies that provide services or products to other businesses. On the other hand, B2C, or “Business-to-Consumer,” refers to companies that sell directly to individual consumers.

These two models serve different types of customers and have distinct differences in terms of audience, processes, product and service types, and marketing tactics and strategies.

In a nutshell, the concept of B2B and B2C are easy to understand.

B2B vs B2C in a Nutshell

B2B transactions occur between businesses or companies, while B2C transactions occur between a business and an individual consumer. B2B products often involve raw materials, manufactured materials, parts, and assemblies, while B2C products are mostly final goods.

Have a look on this B2B vs B2C Infographic:

Difference Between B2B and B2C [Infographic]

Comparison Overview B2B vs B2C Infographic © B2B Marketing World

This means B2B covers the whole value-added chain from raw material to a final product. The raw material, slowly transforming into the final product, becomes less and less differentiated. Each step of this transformation happens between two companies, the one selling, the other buying. The last step of this process is when a consumer sells the final product to a consumer. This transaction happens in a B2C market.

B2B vs B2C Markets along the Value Added Chain

B2B vs B2C Markets along the Value Added Chain © B2B Marketing World

The difference between B2B B2C is the audience and the market for your sales and marketing activities.

Definition of B2B

B2B, or Business-to-Business, refers to market transactions between businesses. The two businesses are either a manufacturer and wholesalers or a wholesaler and a retailer. This is also called a B2B market.

Further, business-to-business refers to a business conducted between companies rather than between a company and a consumer. This type of business contrasts transactions in a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market.

In B2B markets, no consumers are involved. However, the retailer buys on a B2B market (from another company) and sells on a B2C market (to the consumer).

Characteristics of B2B Markets and Customers

B2B markets are common in the supply chain, also named value-added chain. Companies purchase raw materials from other businesses for use in the manufacturing process. The product is then sold to another company for the next manufacturing step. Each step adds value to the product = value-added chain.

The finished product is sold to the consumer on a B2C market. Here is another example: from “Iron Ore to Laptop”, to outline the characteristics of the B2B market definition and customers and companies doing business in this market.

Example of B2B vs B2C Market

Example of B2B vs B2C Market © B2B Marketing World


The B2B market allows two companies to interact with each other. The market can be a specific niche or a global market for exchanging goods, for example, wheat, oil, or sugar trading.

Here are 6 criteria describing a Business-to-Business Market:

  • Raw materials have less differentiation potential than final products.
  • Price, availability, and transportation are essential. Raw materials are often traded on global exchange platforms for a worldwide stock price.
  • Prices for the same good may differ for each customer, depending on the negotiation or volume of the deal.
  • The number of suppliers is smaller than in B2C markets. This is especially true for seldom raw materials like rare earth materials needed for battery production.
  • Global markets play an essential role in government relationships and international cooperation.
  • The total B2B market is more significant than the consumer market. This is because each step of the value-added chain sums up to a larger number than the final product.


B2B customers are both customers and sellers. They buy from one company in the role of customer and sell to another business as a reseller. Different business customer types include manufacturers, wholesalers, governments, and institutions.

These 4 facts give a good indication of a B2B customer:

  • The decision-making process is longer and builds on trust and long-term relationships.
  • The buying process happens with less emotional involvement.
  • B2B customers often involve many people or groups, named the buying center. Each group member has a different role in making the best purchasing decision possible. Members include purchasing, decision-makers, users, gatekeepers, influencers, etc.
  • Established business relationships tend to last for years. The focus is on maintaining the relationship based on defined and mutually accepted conditions.


I am sure you already have some examples in mind. If not, here are typical B2B examples:

  • Microsoft and Salesforce sell software to other businesses.
  • General Electrics creates solutions for essential energy, healthcare, and transportation infrastructure.
  • ExxonMobil internationally trades oil and gas.
  • Boing manufactures and sells airplanes and rockets to airlines and the government.
  • Honeywell manufactures engines for the aviation industry, including the military.

Definition of B2C

B2C or Business-to-consumer transactions refer to the sale of goods and services from a business directly to an end consumer. This sale typically occurs in retail but can also involve digital spaces such as e-commerce websites or mobile apps. B2C markets are characterized by the individual consumer being the final user of the product or service solely for personal needs.

A B2C market is, therefore, also called a consumer market. Commonly, the number of consumers is far bigger than the companies selling the goods.

The distinction between B2B B2C means, therefore, the seller. In both cases, a company sells goods. It is the seller who makes the difference.

It is essential to understand that the same company can operate in B2B and B2C markets.

For example, the screw producer from our “Iron Ore to Laptop” example sells to graphic card manufacturers in a B2B market. The same company, however, also sells screws to consumers using eCommerce in a B2C market.

Characteristics of B2C Markets and Customers

To a large extent, the characteristics of a B2C market are the opposite of B2B. A focus on emotions and personal preferences characterizes B2C markets. This requires effective branding and differentiation to stand out in a highly competitive market. With a broad target audience, B2C companies must reach more potential customers. Transactions in B2C markets are typically shorter and focused on a one-time sale. Customer satisfaction and experience are crucial in B2C markets to build brand loyalty and reputation. Another aspect worth mentioning is digitalization, which is more important in consumer markets, including continuing online sales growth via eCommerce platforms.

Disclaimer: The described characteristics aim to give you a general idea. There are exemptions to these aspects.


The B2C market connects companies and consumers and allows the exchange of goods for money. The market is defined by consumer needs and how a company fulfills these needs. Characteristics include:

  • A B2C market often fulfills essential human needs like food, drinks, safety, transportation, and entertainment.
  • Consumer markets can have multiple suppliers for the same product type. Example: how many shoe brands do you know?
  • The price is the same for all customers. Discounts may be granted, but the base price is standardized.
  • Consumer goods are highly differentiated. Marketers use this to position a strong brand.
  • From a legal perspective, a consumer is no legal entity. Hence, business in a B2C market is done between a legal entity (the company) and a person.

Protective laws, such as consumer rights laws, fraud laws, and alike, ensure the safety of consumers.


As said, B2C customers are individual persons who consume the product or service. Still, consumers purchase goods for other consumers. The obvious example is your husband or wife buying groceries for the kids.

These 5 aspects give a good impression of a customer in a B2C market:

  • B2C customers buy impulsively at the point-of-sales, e.g., when shopping for groceries or other convenient goods.
  • Big investments are typically treated similarly to B2B purchasing processes. Consumers include different people in the buying decision, e.g., when buying a new car or considering building a house. For example, you likely ask a friend about his opinion before purchasing a new mobile phone.
  • Emotions influence the purchasing process. Markets use branding and communication to influence these emotions positively.
  • Not all purchasing decisions are rational. A B2C buying process may start with jealousy over your friend’s new iPhone.
  • Relationships with a company are established via the brand and brand ambassadors. This is endorsed by famous people and the promise to achieve a certain status with the help of the product.

These are only some characteristics of a B2C market and consumers. Let’s finish this chapter with examples of B2C companies doing business in B2B markets too.


  • Apple sells iPhones, iPads, and computers to consumers, retailers, and institutions (e.g., schools). Business is done online and offline with the option for B2C and B2B eCommerce transactions.
  • Amazon is one of the biggest eCommerce platforms in B2C and serves countless businesses. Regarding eCommerce, China-based Alibaba was founded as a B2B platform and is a B2B, B2C, and C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace today.
  • Nike, ADIDAS, and other major sports brands equip professional sports teams and end-consumers globally.
  • Your business flight is a B2B transaction, whereas the person sitting next to you in the plane might travel for leisure in a B2C market.

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Chapter 2

B2B vs B2C Marketing

See Differences and Similarities of the Two Marketing Disciplines

What is marketing? Hubspot defines marketing as “Marketing refers to any actions a company takes to attract an audience to the company’s product or services through high-quality messaging. “

This definition describes the business relationship between a company and its audience. We use this aspect to differentiate between B2B marketing and B2C marketing.

Before going into details, have a look at this B2B vs B2C Marketing video including a short description of both terms:


There are two aspects to combine for a proper definition:

  • The definition of marketing
  • The difference between B2B and B2C market models

Let us look at how to define the two basic marketing disciplines with this approach.

B2B Marketing Definition

Business-to-Business marketing describes all activities a company does to market a product or service to another company to influence the business relationship between the two companies positively. By trend, decisions are made less emotionally. The purchaser is less price sensitive, and the product or service is complex and has a high explanatory effort. The purchase is built on a personal relationship and has a long-term perspective.

This leads to the following definition:

B2B Marketing or Business-to-Business Marketing are the strategies and processes involved in marketing and distributing a product or service to another company or organization in a B2B market.

Let’s break this down:

  • A company uses B2B marketing to market to another company.
  • B2B marketing happens in a business-to-business market.
  • It can affect a product or service.
  • And this kind of marketing covers strategies as well as processes.

Read more details on what marketing for B2B is in this comprehensive article.

B2C Marketing Definition

Contrary to B2B marketing, B2C marketing focuses on consumer markets. It focuses on the relationship between a company and the consumer of a product or a service. By trend, consumers are influenced by emotions, are price sensitive, and make subjective decisions. Consumers do not necessarily seek long-term partnerships or try to make deals in the long run.

The definition of B2C marketing therefore is:

B2C Marketing or Business-to-Consumer marketing are all actions a company takes in marketing and distributing a product or service to a consumer to fulfill their need.

Let’s break this down:

  • B2C marketing is used by a company and targets consumers.
  • It happens in a consumer market.
  • B2C marketing affects products or services.
  • It focuses on creating and fulfilling customer needs.

With these definitions, we can identify the differences between B2B vs. B2C Marketing.

Key Differences and Similarities in B2C vs B2B Marketing

The definition of the two terms already hints at the differences in marketing. The image below shows the differences between the two terms from a high-level perspective.

Infographic B2B vs B2C Marketing 1 - B2B Marketing World

Infographic: B2B vs B2C Marketing © B2B Marketing World

In a nutshell, the most important differences between Business and Consumer Marketing are:

In B2B Marketing:

  • Complex products need high explanatory effort reflected in content-heavy marketing assets such as webinars, whitepapers, case studies, and publications.
  • Promotion is less emotional and more fact-driven.
  • Prices are typically not advertised.
  • A buying center makes decisions that lead to a multi-faceted target group for your marketing actions.
  • The sales cycle time is longer, resulting in long-term marketing campaigns. Consumer relationship is at the center of B2B marketing.


In B2C Marketing:

  • Consumer marketing aims to influence purchases via strong branding, emotional messaging, and people-centric marketing campaigns.
  • Advertising is highly emotional and influential. Product facts are less important. This happens to an extent where facts are clouded to position the product. E.g., trendy labels such as “organic”, “gluten-free” and alike.
  • Prices are essential. Discounts and promos are communicated.
  • Point of sales communication is essential, as the consumer makes a purchase decision in a split second and on his own.
  • Sales cycle tends to be very short. Marketing campaigns, therefore, have a fast return on investment. B2C marketing campaigns are easier to measure.

These key aspects are only the tip of the iceberg. The following chapters give a much deeper insight.

Before we do so, let us have a look on branding as your brand is the core and essence of all marketing.

B2B vs B2C Marketing: Branding

It is a common misperception that companies sell products. Companies sell fulfillment of customers’ needs. Yes, this is achieved by a product or service, but the good itself is not the initial trigger for a purchase. Customer perception is key: “Is the product able to fulfill my need?”.

The question is: “How to influence customer perception?”

The answer is Branding.

What is a brand?

A brand is a company’s identity, making it unique, emotional, and accessible to humans. In other words, a brand gives your company personality.

“A brand describes what a company stands for and why.” (Hubspot)

The common ground of many brand concepts is different brand layers, with the brand core at the center of it all:

Brand Concept in Marketing

Brand Concept in Marketing © B2B Marketing World

With the brand definition, we can continue using the brand.

This task is called branding.

What is branding?

Branding brings a brand to life. It is the process of creating a brand identity.

This task includes the creation of brand elements and the use of these elements in brand communication.

Branding can be visualized in layers too:

Branding in Marketing

Branding in Marketing © B2B Marketing World

The concepts of brand and branding give us the excellent groundwork for differentiation in B2C and B2C branding.

Branding in B2C Marketing

Let us quickly recall B2C marketing key aspects: the target group is consumers, products are price sensitive and fulfill personal needs, communication is emotional, and decisions are made by the consumer and often happen at the point of sale after a short sales circle time. Further, markets are saturated, competition is fierce, and product distinction is tricky.

Therefore, the focus of B2C branding lies on creating a brand experience that is:

  • Personal
  • Emotional
  • Trustworthy and believable
  • Rememberable
  • Enjoyable

The most outstanding B2C branding examples are not product-centric but story-centric.

Here’s an example of a famous Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi advertisement of both companies:

Example of B2C advertisement: Coke vs Pepsi

Example of B2C advertisement Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi © Bettermarketing

Branding in B2B Marketing

To get into the right mood, lets us recall B2B marketing key characteristics: target group are companies, products are high priced and often complex. Communication is fact-centric and heavy on, by trend, less emotional content. A buying center makes the purchase decision over a long period. Prices are not part of the game, and markets are often global niches.

Therefore, the focus of B2B branding lies on establishing a relationship with the company that is:

  • Personal
  • Trustworthy and fact-driven
  • On eye-level
  • Purpose-driven
  • Humanized

Some additional thoughts on each aspect:


Like B2C, a B2B brand makes an unpersonal company more accessible. Personal interaction builds trust, and trust is essential in B2B relationships. The brand helps to give your company a face and enables people to connect emotionally. This is important to keep your company on top of your mind.


Trustworthy and fact-driven

Trust leads to turnover. Your brand perception is an excellent way of conveying your expertise. Thought Leadership is a great branding strategy to position your company as the most trustworthy company in the market. This is done by fact-driven positioning.


On eye-level

Honest communication is vital for a long-term business relationship. A great B2B brand conveys that you are at eye level with your customers. The message is that you help them to achieve their goals by fulfilling their needs.

Purpose drive

A purpose-driven brand communication focuses on solutions instead of products. It gives your brand a reason to believe. Your branding supports your company’s purpose and conveys the “reason why”.


I have mentioned it – give your company a face. Include humans in your brand elements and give your employees a well-deserved spot in your brand communication. The positive effects will include more stable business relationships, stronger recognition, better job-market perception, etc.

Your brand is key to successful marketing. It sets the scene and outlines a framework for your marketing strategy, actions, assets, marketing mix, and communication channels.

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Chapter 3

B2C vs B2B Marketing Strategies

What is a B2B Marketing Strategy and How to Create it

Marketing strategies is a complex topic and has different perspectives to address. Therefore, this chapter aims to give you a basic understanding of how strategies differ in B2B vs. B2C Marketing.

What is a Marketing Strategy, and why is it important

A B2B marketing strategy is a top-level plan for reaching a defined target group and turning them into customers of a company’s products or services.

Your game plan is to contribute to business goals and reach the company vision. Marketing-centric companies consider the marketing strategy equal to other strategies like sales, go-to-market, digitalization, and product strategies.

But why is a strategy important? Can’t you start directly with great marketing campaigning? The answer is obviously no. The reason for it is the bigger picture I want to give:

Vision to Plan in B2B Marketing

Vision to Plan in B2B Marketing © B2B Marketing World

You may reach the town behind the mountain with another strategy. For example, by taking the plan to get there. Would the same tactic, “use a boat,” be helpful in this case?

You might also decide to use a boat to get to the town, but there is no river. In that example, you failed to create a strategy contributing to the aim. Your boat might be perfect, but the aim remains not fulfillable.

Different Strategy Perspectives

The term marketing strategy applies to many different strategy concepts. In essence, there are two perspectives I want to outline for this article:

  • Marketing Strategy Business Types
  • Marketing Strategy Frameworks
  • Marketing Strategy Disciplines

Let’s have a closer look at the matter.

Marketing Strategy Business Types

I call these strategies “business types,” as this approach is derived from your company’s business goals. Further, the following strategies are interconnected with business strategies. Therefore, they only work as a general strategic direction.

Your marketing strategy can evolve around the following:

  • Differentiation of products by USPs
  • Focus on a specific niche market
  • Cost Leadership uses advantages of resource- and efficiency advantages

Read more on three generic strategies by Michael Porter.

Marketing Strategy Frameworks

Strategies as such have frameworks. This is also true for marketing strategies, independent if applied to B2B or B2C marketing strategies.

These frameworks have a universal truth and are blueprints for creating strategies. In essence, these strategy frameworks have 6 steps:

  • Step #1 – Define marketing aims
  • Step #2 – Analyze the status quo
  • Step #3 – Define your target group
  • Step #4 – Describe the customer journey. Your Marketing Tactic.
  • Step #5 – Create your marketing plan
  • Step #6 – Make your results measurable

As you see, this concept does not consider marketing disciplines (e.g., social media). It is rather a blueprint to understand how a marketing strategy is created. As said, it will work for both B2B and B2C marketing.

Marketing Strategy Disciplines

This category is what many will consider a marketing strategy. It includes all the buzzwords you may have looked for. However, the following B2B B2C marketing strategy is derived from the abovementioned frameworks and types.

It is essential to understand principles before creating strategies for the different marketing disciplines.

To mention a few:

The list can be extended, as each marketing discipline has further sub-topics. Each sub-topic may also have a strategy. For example, the SEO strategy, website strategy, eCommerce strategy, educational content marketing strategy, Google Ads strategy, etc.

How to decide on a B2B and B2C Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy needs to be derived from the company’s aims. It also needs to take other strategic cornerstones into account. This, for example, includes the product, go-to-market, and sales strategies.

Once the internal strategy environment is set, you can derive your marketing strategy and start creating it with the framework described above.

Next, use the cornerstones of your strategy to derive more detailed strategies for the various marketing disciplines.

Each strategy has an interdependency and is logically derived from another strategy, hence from another aim. Ultimately, all strategies must contribute to the company’s vision.

Remember, the best boat does not help you visit the city behind the mountain if no river flows.

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Chapter 4

B2B vs B2C Marketing: Marketing Mix

Subheadline below H2, Capitalized

Let’s get to the heart of it. What are the differences and similarities between B2B and B2C marketing? This chapter gives you the answer. First, I focus on the classic marketing mix, including the 4Ps, distinguishing between offline and online sales.

B2B vs B2C Communication

Marketing Communication or “Promotion” is essential to the marketing mix. Often, this area is synonymously used for marketing and is the central marketing team’s responsibility. Communication includes external, market-oriented communication (= customer communication) and internal, company-oriented communication (=employee communication).

B2B Marketing Communication

Communication in B2B is often described as less emotional, fact-based, and educational content driven. This type of content helps to establish credibility and build trust with potential clients.

However, the B2B marketing communication type differs significantly depending on the buying phase of potential customers. The initial stage of raising awareness uses branded content and focuses on increasing awareness, followed by providing educational material. During the action phase (see AIDA mode for details), the focus shifts to demonstrating the company’s ability to provide exceptional products and services. This

Promotional communication, such as testimonials or purely emotionally driven advertising, is less important than B2C marketing. Instead, the focus is on building trust to build strong client relationships. Product-centric communication evolves around facts, norms, and USPs.

B2C Marketing Communication

Simply put, many elements of consumer marketing communication stand contrary to business marketing communication.

Strong B2C brands use stories to spark emotions through a strong brand reputation and promise. You will see fewer facts than in B2B unless specific markets require it (e.g., the IT industry). The focus is on the buying decision phase without necessarily educating the consumers upfront. Emotional and often irrational triggers rush consumers into a decision. B2C marketing communication positively influences these moments.

Micro-moments create a brand experience whenever a consumer contacts the B2C brand. Influencers help to generate these interaction points on a subtle, low-barrier level.

B2C vs B2B Price

The common perception is that prices are hidden in B2B and are used as central buying criteria in B2C. While this is true in essence, there are further aspects to it.

B2B Price Policy

B2B markets have a low price sensitivity. This means that price and sales are linearly connected. There is no disproportional de- or increase of sales when prices are de- or increased. Companies commonly have a purchasing department to argue price and payment conditions. Large enterprises compare prices, and decisions require at least a second offer. Budget constraints and bidding processes influence the price, often required by law.

It is still common for B2B companies not to display prices online. Modern marketers criticize this principle. There is no need to hide prices, as (a) competition can easily find prices with fake purchases, and (b) customers know facts before starting an initial quote request.

B2C Price Policy

Price sensitivity in B2C markets can be high or low depending on the product category. Consumers have a hybrid price perception as soft facts such as branding, personal status, or perceived (promised) feature influence price sensitivity. By trend, price is an emotionally influenced buying aspect. Consumers do not necessarily reason prices and compare with the created value.

Prices are known in B2C markets and are used by marketers for promotion purposes. Discounts are common.

There are multiple platforms to compare prices, estimate future price levels and guide consumers on whether it is a good time to buy.

B2B vs B2C Sales

The third “P” of the marketing mix is place or also referred to as distribution policy, commonly known as sales. Due to the nature of the target group, there are distinct differences between B2B sales and B2C sales:

B2B Sales and Distribution

Salespeople are vital success factors in B2B. The personal relationship is at the center of the buying process and often a critical criterion. Due to the nature of the business, this group of employees are well trained and knows the functional principles of the product. Salespeople often install products at the customer’s site and educate the customer. The knowledge is deep and requires training which makes sales and marketing people expensive. The fluctuation rate is lower than in B2B, and loyal employees often are 100% convinced of the superiority of the product/service. The salesforce often is globally and organized in local company subsidiaries. This requires decentralizing sales management.

Getting the product to the customer can be tricky, especially globally. Shipping costs can be high due to heavy or bulky products. The shipment may include dangerous goods and require special preparation. Typically, distribution is global but not decentralized. That means global fulfillment processes out of centralized warehouses with high planning and managing demand. International expertise is required to handle aspects such as Incoterms, toll and tax-related aspects, and legal requirements.

B2C Sales and Distribution

The sales and distribution process differs from B2B for one main reason: the transaction happens between a company and a person. This aspect includes multiple, quite logical, implications. The natural behavior of a person defines the sales.

The sale happens online or offline. Offline purchases, or brick-and-mortar sales, happen in stores. The consumer can touch and try the product. There is no shipment needed as the buyer takes the product with him.

Ad hoc decisions at the point of sale (e.g., supermarket cashier) are common.

For online purchases, fast delivery and 24/7 accessibility to the products and services are state-of-the-art. The fulfillment is often on the doorstep.

B2C vs B2B eCommerce

Online sales or eCommerce are increasing. Worldwide online retail sales make up more than 20% of global retail. This is a 6 trillion US dollar market.

This trend, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, also happens in the B2B segment. Statista suggests that in 2023, 17% of B2B sales in the US will be generated online.

While eCommerce is a part of the classic place / distribution “P”, the fast-growing market deserves a closer look.

B2B eCommerce

Online business sales or B2B eCommerce refers to the online marketing and sales of products between two businesses, with the primary objective of increasing customer reach and driving more revenue while reducing the cost-to-serve.

Some key advantages of online sales include automated sales processes enabling smoother transactions among businesses, suppliers, and distributors. Further, it also reduces infrastructure and overhead costs. This, in turn, lowers the need for wholesalers or retailers, resulting in higher margins. Additionally, the 24/7 availability increases your growth potential. An eCommerce store can replace repetitive tasks of sales representatives. Self-explanatory products make the perfect online sale.

Challenging aspects are global payment processes. The acceptance of different payment methods and currencies are hard to realize. In addition, additional terms of payment often exist for each customer. This requires powerful eCommerce systems storing customer data. This results in interfaces to other systems, such as the ERP or CRM.

B2C eCommerce

Buying online is an established and continuously growing sales channel. Few companies can afford to rely on offline sales only. There are two categories of B2C companies:

  • Online pure players
  • Omnichannel sales

The best-known example of a pure online player in the B2C segment is amazon.com. Without a physical presence, the eCommerce giant purely provides s digital sales experience. Companies like Apple or Nike use omnichannel sales strategies, including eCommerce stores.

From a consumer perspective, buying a product online has different options. Either directly from the company (Apple Webshop) or via a reseller (e.g., Mobile Companies).

B2B vs B2C Product and Services

This is the last “P” of the classic marketing mix. Products and services are probably the most distinct aspect of how B2B and B2C differs. The reason for this is the value-added chain. The closer a good becomes purchasable by a consumer, the more differentiated it becomes.

B2B vs B2C Markets along the Value Added Chain
Example of B2B vs B2C Market

The distinct moment in this logic is when details of the manufacturing process and working principles become largely obsolete. This is when a product enters the B2C market, as consumers have fundamentally different needs than companies.

The results are distinct differences between B2B and B2C portfolios.

B2B Product and Service Policy

By trend, B2B portfolios are more complex and often need an expert to understand features and USPs. This leads to a high explanatory effort for marketers and sales. Specifications, norms, and standards are central to the product and service information.

B2C Product and Service Policy

Consumers understand the pros and cons of the product or service without understanding the mechanisms behind it. Or they simply do not care how a product works as long as it fulfills a certain need.

Sometimes, the product or company brand and convenience are more important than the product’s benefit.

This has multiple impacts on marketing the product and service, which we discuss in the following chapter on marketing channel differences.

This has multiple impacts on marketing the product and service, which we discuss in the following chapter on marketing channel differences.

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Chapter 5

B2B vs B2C Marketing: Marketing Channels

Understand Online Marketing Channels, Social Media and Classic Marketing Channels

Let’s continue with the differences and similarities of B2B B2C from a marketing channel perspective. This is essential when deciding on channels and their usage. Some marketing channels work better than others in B2B, and you cannot derive success from B2C consumer behavior.

On the other hand, the past showed that B2B often adapts B2C channels for their own purpose. A great example is social media which started as a B2C channel. Nowadays, LinkedIn is a main B2B marketing channel for content marketing and paid social media marketing activities.

In the following, we touch on the most important marketing channels, B2B vs. B2C.

B2C vs B2B Online Marketing

Online marketing has become a vital part of any successful marketing strategy. For B2B and B2C companies, a strong online presence is essential. However, how B2B and B2C companies approach online marketing can differ significantly. This section will explore the key differences in online marketing between B2B and B2C companies.

Now, let’s dive into a deep dive for B2B and B2C marketing online:

B2B Online Marketing

B2B online marketing often relies on inbound marketing tactics, such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and social media marketing. The aim is to drive traffic and generate leads. Since B2B sales cycles tend to be longer and more complex, online marketing efforts are focused on building relationships with potential customers. Marketers do this by providing the target audience with valuable information at every sales funnel stage.

To succeed in B2B online marketing, you must focus on creating high-quality content that addresses the specific pain points of your target audience.

This content is then distributed through multiple channels, for example, website, blog, social media, and email marketing campaigns. The focus lies on building strong relationships with potential customers through lead nurturing campaigns. Options to do so include personalized email marketing and targeted advertising on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Undoubtedly, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a vital part of marketing activities. The B2B portfolio is often a niche that leads to specific content with an educational focus. Due to the relatively small group of competitors, it is typically easier to rank on longtail keywords. The cost per click is also cheaper than in a high-competitive area. Even more so, brand inquiries are easy to catch. Still, that does not mean B2B search engine marketing can be done as a side hustle. To rank on the first page requires a professional approach.

Despite its potential, B2B companies often have only a rudimental online appearance and do not use the full range of the online marketing kit. This might be a huge advantage for your company if online marketing is done right.

In B2B, it is still possible to dominate your market with relatively low effort.

B2C Online Marketing

In B2C markets, online marketing is often more focused on outbound marketing tactics. This includes paid advertising, influencer marketing, and social media marketing. The aim is to reach and engage with individual consumers, not businesses. We already stated that B2C sales cycles tend to be shorter and more emotionally driven. This means that online marketing efforts focus on capturing the attention of potential customers and making them buy.

Outstanding B2C online marketing has visually appealing content that resonates with the target audience’s emotions. This content is distributed through social media platforms, influencer partnerships, and paid advertising campaigns. Additionally, B2C companies must create a seamless online shopping experience that makes it easy for customers to browse and purchase products online.

B2C is the pacemaker of online marketing, and the digitalization of business is a vital parameter for many companies. There are multiple online pure players on the market which have their only presence online. A proper online appearance is the most important part of the marketing mix and is constantly developed further.

By trend, the keywords you try to rank for in B2C are more competitive than in B2B. Consequently, companies must invest highly in SEO and SEA experts and advertising. Services like Google My Business are often used for customer feedback and have high risks if not managed professionally. You also need to do AB testing and adapt Google Ads campaigns regularly. From a content perspective, text alone does not work anymore. Search engine marketing requires text, pictures, videos, infographics, and animated content.

B2B vs B2C Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract a specific target audience. This type of marketing works for both B2B and B2C companies to build brand awareness, establish authority, and drive sales. However, the content requirements for B2B and B2C companies differ significantly. This is due to differences in product complexity, target audience, and purchasing process.

In B2B content marketing, you focus on providing informative and educational content that addresses the specific pain points of potential customers. The content is more technical and in-depth than B2C content. Therefore, the content creation is longer and aims to generate leads and build relationships with potential customers over time.

The nature of B2B marketing requires educational content to explain the product or service in detail. Thus, functionality, features, and the “behind the scene” perspective are relevant. Educational content proves the competence of the company. This is a strategic concept called “Though Leadership”. It aims to be the expert source within your industry.

The content marketing strategy needs to consider the different roles of people in the buying center. For example, the user needs content to understand the working principle of the product. The influencer might want to know the technical or physical principle that results in a certain feature. And the decision maker wants a comparison of different available solutions. The different requirements need different types of content. This is part of a B2B content marketing strategy.

B2C Content Marketing

The content is often more aspirational and entertaining than B2B content, and the target audience tends to be individual consumers rather than decision-makers within a business. B2C content marketing tends to involve a shorter content creation process, focusing on driving immediate conversions and making sales.

B2C content helps to reduce the complexity of the buying decision. This allows consumers to make an easy decision. Often it is emotionally influencing. Without a buying center, as in B2B, the consumer decides whether a product is worth it.

From a branding perspective, content must be engaging, rememberable, and emotional. A strong brand reduces buying barriers and increases trust. B2C content marketing is a strong trigger for irrational buying behavior. Examples are point-of-sales content or “fear of missing out” content to rush consumers into buying decisions.

Still, also in B2C, educational content has a purpose. Examples are purchasing guides (e.g., for a new TV or mobile phone) or how-to guides.

B2C vs B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses social media platforms to promote a product, service, or brand and build a social network. This type of marketing is vital for both B2B and B2C companies. There is no way around social media marketing in 2023. If you are not social, you do not exist. It helps to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and drive sales. Yet, the strategies and tactics used in social media marketing may differ between B2C vs B2B.

B2B Social Media Marketing

In B2B social media marketing, you want to use professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with decision-makers and industry influencers. Use it to establish thought leadership, share industry insights, and promote your portfolio. The content shared on social media tends to be more formal and professional. The goal is to establish trust and credibility with potential customers. However, there are also great examples of how to humanize your brand via social media. Showing people and showing emotions is also increasingly important in B2B social media.

In addition to LinkedIn, B2B companies may use other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote their brand. Typical use cases are employer branding and media relations. Videos, most likely educational content, are perfect for YouTube and similar video content hubs.

B2C Social Media Marketing

B2C social media marketing uses visually-driven platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. Everything is about capturing the attention of consumers and driving sales. B2C companies often use social media to showcase their products creatively and engagingly. Going viral is a common aim of campaigns.

The content shared on social media tends to be more entertaining and visually appealing. The goal is to create an emotional connection with customers and become top of mind. B2C companies continue to use other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Commonly to run paid advertising campaigns.

The target audience strongly influences the choice of social media channels for B2C. More precisely, of the target audience’s age. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and WhatsApp have different core user groups.

B2B vs B2C Classic Marketing

Many approaches are considered classic marketing, including channels like TV, radio, print and brochures, flyer, catalogs and magazines, and events. These marketing channels are often called mass marketing and are sometimes mixed up with the above-the-line vs. below-the-line marketing concept.

Let’s have a look at two aspects of classic marketing: print and events.

Classic B2B Marketing


The classic brochure and print advertising are still a common thing in B2B. Printed brochures, for example, are heavily used at exhibitions and as a presentation tool during customer talks. Due to the complex products, the high explanatory effort for the sales rep is supported with printed material. The advantage of physical documentation is to have it available independently of electricity, smartphones, and notebooks. Commonly, no electronic devices are allowed at the customer site—especially if the sales talk happens on plant premises. There are still industries and decision-makers who read print copies.

As a B2B marketer, you must carefully decide if print is still necessary. Market research and media benchmarks help you to understand what media your target audience consumes.

Be careful by quoting, “Print is dead”. It might haunt you as a zombie.

Event Marketing

Different event types include exhibitions, networking events, or industry symposiums. Event marketing is vital in presenting products and technology to the target group.

Events are also an opportunity to meet other industry players. B2B is primarily built on trust; therefore, such networking opportunities play a vital role in the relationship.

Classic B2C Marketing


In B2C, the purpose of printed material needs to work without interaction with a sales guy. The print material needs to be self-explanatory. Catching the recipient’s attention is hard, and the attention barrier is vast.

Flyers by snail mail are a common way of sending daily updates, e.g., on grocery coupons. Other usages of print marketing material are company magazines sent directly to the customer.

With the ever-growing importance of digital channels, the classic print marketing material is continuously decreasing. But this also bears an opportunity because competition for the letterbox is less pronounced these days.

Event Marketing

Events typically display the newest products or services to a larger audience. Branch-specific events are good opportunities for customers to see all specific product providers in one place. Exhibitions allow seeing, touching, and testing the latest product innovations. Such events are significant and often expensively staged from a branding perspective. Compared to B2B events, B2C events have less networking character but show entertaining approaches.

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Chapter 6

Human to Human Marketing

Why “We Are All Humans” is No Concept

A quick glance at the concept of human-to-human marketing gives a comprehensive view of this article.

This aspect is frequently discussed when talking about B2B vs. B2C. In both cases, humans interact with humans. A conclusion would be that the difference between B2B and B2C marketing is outdated, and the only necessary approach is Human-to-Human “H2H”.

This is a simplified concept and only reflects the obvious – that we are all humans. It is just too generic to provide a valid framework to work with. However important the human factor is, it cannot be used to describe different marketing approaches.

The comprehensive article on the differences and similarities of the B2B and B2C concepts underlines the necessity to work within these frameworks.

Indeed, without always sticking to borders. Learning and adapting from consumer markets always helped in B2B too.

To sum up, B2B and B2C marketing is still a useful framework to describe marketing for the various parts of the value-added chain. From raw material to the final product and beyond.


Frequently Asked Questions

Find Answers to the Most Important Questions

What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C and C2C?2023-10-17T15:55:18+02:00

B2B stands for Business-to-Business, B2C stands for Business-to-Consumer and C2C means Consumer-to-Consumer. The difference, therefore, is between whom the transaction (e.g. purchase) happens.

What Is B2B and B2C With Examples?2023-10-17T15:57:53+02:00

B2B (Business-to-Business) are transactions between companies, whereas B2C (Business-to-Consumer) happens between companies and consumers. An example for B2B is graphic card producer NVIDIA selling to computer manufacturer DELL. B2C means when DELL sells a computer to a consumer for private usage.

What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C Buying Process?2023-10-17T16:01:31+02:00

The B2B (Business-to-Business) buying process is longer as the products and services are more complex. More people are involved in the buying decisions to objectify the purchase. Prices are higher. The purchase is based on facts and objective criteria rather than emotions and consumer needs.

Chapter 7

Summary [TL;DR]

B2B vs B2C in A Nutshell

Business-to-Business Marketing (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer Marketing (B2C) are different. There are differences from the perspective of the classic 4Ps of Marketing and considering the more comprehensive 7Ps. With a closer look on the most common marketing channel, the target group and the nature of the product has a big impact on your marketing. In some industries this impact will be bigger than in others. Sometimes, B2C and B2B Marketing are very alike. On other occasions you will experience differences like day and night.

The key take-away message is to know and understand your target group and how to reach them. This simple perspective defines the facets of your marketing strategy, content and channels. Another aspect of knowing both, the B2B and the B2C end of things, is to learn from each other. Frequently, B2C marketing trends are adapted by B2B marketing over time. The reason for this phenomenon is we. Humans.

In both cases, people are collaborating. The exemption is eCommerce and purely digital services without another human interaction. Still, the basic concepts, differences and peculiarities of B2B and B2C Marketing need to be considered before neglecting them. That’s your very own choice when defining your state-of-the-art marketing strategy.


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Stephan Wenger

B2B Marketing Expert, Editor and Marketing Management Consultant

Stephan Wenger is a seasoned B2B Marketing Expert with more than 10 years of experience in leading global companies. His extensive expertise lies in the realms of B2B online marketing, content marketing, strategic marketing, and driving synergy between sales and marketing, including effective lead management.

By Categories: Definition39 min readLast Updated: October 24th, 2023

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