B2B Marketing World

B2B vs B2C

What is Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer

B2B, or “Business-to-Business,” and B2C, or “Business-to-Consumer,” refer to different market types. The difference lies in the customer you sell to.

B2B = Business sells to another Business on a B2B market

B2C = Business sells to a consumer on a consumer market

This article defines both market types and shows the differences between B2B and B2C markets, customers, marketing, eCommerce, and product management. Including examples of B2B and B2C companies.

If you look for the differences of B2B and B2C for marketing, we have you covered too.

By Categories: Definition16 min readLast Updated: January 19th, 2024
Post: B2B vs B2C

3 Article Highlights

  • Definition of B2B and B2C
  • Differences in Terms of Market and Customers, Including Company Examples
  • Differences in B2B vs B2C eCommerce, Marketing, and Product Management
  • No time? [TL;DR] Read Summary

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Share This Article

Newsletter

Subscribe and Learn B2B Marketing.

Chapter 1

B2B vs B2C

Business vs. Consumer Markets

Chapter Overview

In the business world, there are two main markets that companies deal with: B2B and B2C.

B2B vs B2C

B2B vs B2C © B2B Marketing World

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, tactics and strategies for B2B marketing and B2C marketing.

Definition of Business-to-Business

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

In B2B markets, no consumers are involved. However, a retailer buys on a B2B market (from another company) and sells on a B2C market (to the consumer). This means that the retailer is part of both market types.

B2B products often involve raw materials, manufactured materials, parts, and assemblies, while B2C products are mostly final goods.

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.

Definition of Business-to-Consumer

B2C or Business-to-consumer transactions refer to the sale of goods and services from a business directly to an end consumer. A B2C market is, therefore, also called a consumer market.

B2C markets are characterized by the individual consumer being the final user of the product or service solely for personal needs.

The sale typically occurs in retail but can also involve digital spaces such as e-commerce websites or mobile apps.

Commonly, the number of consumers is far bigger than the companies selling the goods.

It is essential to understand that the same company can operate in B2B and B2C markets. For example, a screw producer sells to a graphic card manufacturer in a B2B market. The same company, however, also sells screws to consumers using eCommerce in a B2C market.

5 Key Differences between B2B and B2C

The differences between B2B and B2C are the product type, audience, and the market. This impacts the way the business is done. It also impacts your sales and B2B and B2C marketing activities.

The 5 main key differences of B2B vs B2C are:

  • Business Partners and Customers

    As defined, B2B = business relation between two companies, and B2C = a consumer buying from a company. This leads to the customer either being a company or a consumer.

  • Type of Product and Service

    B2B sells raw materials, intermediate products, and, to some extent, final products. B2C mainly sells final products, including fast-moving consumer goods, like drinks, food, household goods, and other consumables.

  • Sales Cycle Time

    Due to the nature of the product, B2B has a long sales cycle time, while B2C purchase decisions are made fast, sometimes in a fraction of a second at the point of sales. Exemptions exist, like buying a car as a consumer.

  • Buying Decisions and People Involved

    Business buying decisions are objective and typically made by a buying center. This means that multiple persons are involved. On the other hand, the consumer makes a buying decision on his own or – for larger investments – includes family and friends.

  • Marketing and Sales Focus

    Facts, norms, and reasonable criteria are common in business markets. In contrast, emotional and storytelling-driven communication is part of consumer goods marketing.

E-Book: B2B Marketing

From the B2B Marketing World E-Book Series

B2B Marketing World eBook - What is B2B Marketing

Price: € 9.90

Your Comprehensive Guide to Business-To-Business Marketing, Including Industrial Marketing, Differences to B2C Marketing, a Strategy Framework, and Examples.

Why Buying?

  • Actionable Guide, pdf. Document
  • 95 Pages
  • 25+ Figures
  • 10+ Statistics Including Source

Section I – B2B Marketing

  • 1. What is B2B Marketing
  • 2. What is Industrial Marketing
  • 3. B2B Marketing Channels
  • 4. B2B Marketing Strategy

Section II – B2B Marketing Trends and Examples

  • 1. B2B Marketing Trends
  • 2. B2B Marketing Examples

Section III – B2B vs B2C

  • 1. B2B vs. B2C
  • 2. B2B Markets and Customers
  • 3. B2C Markets and Customers
  • 4. Further B2B vs. B2C Characteristics

Section IV – B2B vs B2C Marketing

  • 1. B2B vs. B2C Marketing
  • 2. B2B vs B2C Marketing: Branding
  • 3. B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Customer Relationship
  • 4. B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Marketing Mix
  • 5. B2B vs B2C Marketing: Marketing Channels
  • 6. Use B2C Marketing Tactics for B2B Marketing

Section V – Further Reading and References

  • 1. Analysis of 25 Marketing Definitions

Price: € 9.90

I agree to my data being stored for processing this download and sending this newsletter if opt-in. I am able to opt-out at any time. Read Privacy Policy

Chapter 2

B2B and B2C Compared [Infographic]

The Main Differences Visualized

This infographic shows the main differences B2B vs B2C in a nutshell:

What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C [Infographic]

What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C [Infographic] © B2B Marketing World

B2B Marketing World eBook - B2B vs B2C

Download this free Infographic!

I agree to my data being stored for processing this download and sending this newsletter if opt-in. I am able to opt-out at any time. Read Privacy Policy

Chapter 3

B2B Markets and Customers

Understand the Business-to-Business Market

B2B markets are common in the supply chain, also named value-added chain.

Chapter Overview

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 an example, from “Iron Ore to Laptop”, to outline the characteristics of the B2B market definition and customers and companies doing business in this market.

Each value-adding step marks its market. From iron ore to steel, from steel to wire, and selling laptops to a retailer. These markets are all business-to-business.

B2B Market

B2B Market © B2B Marketing World

B2B Market

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

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.

Examples for B2B

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.
Chapter 4

B2C Markets and Customers

Understand the Business-to-Consumer Market

The characteristics of a B2C market are largely the opposite of B2B.

Chapter Overview

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.

B2C Market

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.

B2C Customers

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.

Examples for B2C

  • 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.
Chapter 5

Further B2B vs B2C Characteristics

Marketing, eCommerce, and Product Management from a B2B vs B2C Perspective

The customers, market, and goods describe the main differences between B2B vs. B2C. However, there are further business processes and disciplines worth mentioning.

Chapter Overview

B2B and B2C Marketing

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is a specialized approach that involves developing and implementing marketing strategies, tactics, and content specifically designed to promote products or services to other businesses. This type of marketing focuses on building strong relationships and delivering value to business clients.

In contrast, business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing is centered around marketing strategies and tactics directed towards individual consumers. B2C marketing aims to directly capture consumers’ attention and interest to drive immediate sales.

While B2B and B2C marketing share similar principles, they differ in various key aspects

  • Product Complexity
  • Emotional Level of Communication
  • Price Sensitivity and Price Range
  • Decision Making
  • Sales Process and Sales Cycle Time

Do you want more details? Read all the differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

B2B vs B2C eCommerce

B2B eCommerce

Online business sales or B2B eCommerce refers to the online marketing and sales of products between two businesses.

The primary objective is to increase customer reach and drive 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 is hard to realize. In addition, additional payment terms often exist for each customer. This requires powerful eCommerce systems storing customer data. You need 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. The eCommerce giant provides a digital sales experience without a physical presence. 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 Management

A Product Manager (PM) is a strategic role responsible for the success of a product. From its conception through to its launch and market penetration. PMs are the central point between business strategy, technology, and market success. They define the product’s direction and business objectives and create actionable plans.

In understanding the differences between B2B and B2C product management, we should first note that the core function of a PM remains the same. To deliver a product that meets the needs of the respective target group.

However, the approach between B2B and B2C differs.

B2B

B2B Product Management requires a deep understanding of the industry and the working principles of the product.

PMs in this field often do intensive research, interviews, and customer visits to gain insights into the needs.  They build strong industry knowledge and create trust with both their sales teams and developers.

B2B PMs often have a technical education, a Ph.D., and a high expertise, leading to thought leadership.

B2C

As B2C products are less complex, B2C product managers focus on understanding consumer behavior and trends. They often rely on usability testing and behavioral science to make their decisions.

Marketing campaigns and branding are more important and lead to a more classic field of responsibility: price management, distribution, international sales, and marketing.

As the customer base is bigger than in B2B, B2C product managers use market research, both qualitative and quantitative, to understand their target group. Even more so for online businesses and international or global markets.

Chapter 6

Summary [TL;DR]

B2B vs B2C in A Nutshell

Two primary markets are B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer).

B2B companies provide services or products to other businesses, while B2C means companies selling directly to consumers. These markets differ in terms of audience, processes, product types, and marketing strategies.

B2B focuses on business relationships, raw materials, and long sales cycles. B2C pushes the sales of final products to consumers with shorter decision-making times.

Understanding these differences is necessary for sales and marketing in each market.

In B2B markets, businesses purchase raw materials and add value through manufacturing processes before selling the product to other companies.

B2C markets, on the other hand, focus on emotional connections with customers. This requires branding and product differentiation. Decisions on B2C markets are typically made fast, and customer satisfaction is essential. With growing online sales through eCommerce platforms, digitalization is also more important in consumer markets.

This article further covers the key characteristics and differences between B2B and B2C in marketing, eCommerce, and product management.

B2B marketing focuses on building strong relationships and delivering value to business clients. B2C marketing aims to capture the attention of individual consumers and trigger immediate sales.

B2B eCommerce is used to increase customer reach and reduce costs, while B2C eCommerce is a growing sales channel with online pure players and omnichannel sales options.

As for product management, B2B requires deep industry understanding, while B2C focuses on consumer behavior and trends.

E-Book: B2B Marketing

From the B2B Marketing World E-Book Series

B2B Marketing World eBook - What is B2B Marketing

Price: € 9.90

Your Comprehensive Guide to Business-To-Business Marketing, Including Industrial Marketing, Differences to B2C Marketing, a Strategy Framework, and Examples.

Why Buying?

  • Actionable Guide, pdf. Document
  • 95 Pages
  • 25+ Figures
  • 10+ Statistics Including Source

Section I – B2B Marketing

  • 1. What is B2B Marketing
  • 2. What is Industrial Marketing
  • 3. B2B Marketing Channels
  • 4. B2B Marketing Strategy

Section II – B2B Marketing Trends and Examples

  • 1. B2B Marketing Trends
  • 2. B2B Marketing Examples

Section III – B2B vs B2C

  • 1. B2B vs. B2C
  • 2. B2B Markets and Customers
  • 3. B2C Markets and Customers
  • 4. Further B2B vs. B2C Characteristics

Section IV – B2B vs B2C Marketing

  • 1. B2B vs. B2C Marketing
  • 2. B2B vs B2C Marketing: Branding
  • 3. B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Customer Relationship
  • 4. B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Marketing Mix
  • 5. B2B vs B2C Marketing: Marketing Channels
  • 6. Use B2C Marketing Tactics for B2B Marketing

Section V – Further Reading and References

  • 1. Analysis of 25 Marketing Definitions

Price: € 9.90

I agree to my data being stored for processing this download and sending this newsletter if opt-in. I am able to opt-out at any time. Read Privacy Policy

FAQ

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.

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: Definition16 min readLast Updated: January 19th, 2024

Leave A Comment

You May Like the Following Articles

  • Demand Generation Marketing

    Demand Generation Marketing

    In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about demand generation marketing - from its definition and benefits to the top 7 demand generation strategies you can implement to help your business make more sales.

    By |Categories: Definition|7 min read|Last Updated: December 27th, 2023|
  • Industrial Marketing

    Industrial Marketing

    Industrial marketing is all actions and processes to market a product or service to another company. In other words, it is marketing directed at other businesses instead of directed at consumers. To fully understand marketing for industrial goods, this article covers a definition, characteristics, strategy and examples of industrial business marketing.

    By |Categories: Definition|30 min read|Last Updated: January 7th, 2024|
  • B2B Marketing in a Nutshell

    B2B Marketing in a Nutshell

    Marketing is essential. But it's hard to create a marketing plan from scratch. This article outlines the very basics to clearly lay out working principles. All marketing efforts can be categorized into three phases. You will read about prospects, leads, and customers and the ingredients of a blueprint B2B Marketing plan.

    By |Categories: Definition|5 min read|Last Updated: December 27th, 2023|
  • What is B2B Marketing? A Definition

    What is B2B Marketing? A Definition

    Welcome to B2B Marketing, where businesses sell to other companies rather than individual consumers (B2C). But what exactly is B2B Marketing? How does it differ from its counterpart, B2C marketing? This article covers a 7-step approach to creating your B2B marketing strategy, including the marketing mix and different marketing channels. We also show examples of existing, real-world business marketing strategies and tactics.

    By |Categories: Definition|25 min read|Last Updated: January 14th, 2024|