Business Marketing - Business Marketing Vs. Consumer Marketing

Business Marketing Vs. Consumer Marketing

Although on the surface the differences between business and consumer marketing may seem obvious, there are more subtle distinctions between the two with substantial ramifications. Dwyer and Tanner (2006) note that business marketing generally entails shorter and more direct channels of distribution.

While consumer marketing is aimed at large groups through mass media and retailers, the negotiation process between the buyer and seller is more personal in business marketing. According to Hutt and Speh (2004), most business marketers commit only a small part of their promotional budgets to advertising, and that is usually through direct mail efforts and trade journals. While that advertising is limited, it often helps the business marketer set up successful sales calls.

Marketing to a business trying to make a profit (business-to-business marketing) as opposed to an individual for personal use (Business-to-Consumer, or B2C marketing) is similar in terms of the fundamental principles of marketing. In B2C, B2B and B2G marketing situations, the marketer must always:

  • successfully match the product or service strengths with the needs of a definable target market;
  • position and price to align the product or service with its market, often an intricate balance; and
  • communicate and sell it in the fashion that demonstrates its value effectively to the target market.

These are the fundamental principles of the 4 Ps of marketing (the marketing mix) first documented by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960.

While "other businesses" might seem like the simple answer, Dwyer and Tanner (2006) say business customers fall into four broad categories: companies that consume products or services, government agencies, institutions and resellers.

The first category includes original equipment manufacturers, such as large automakers who buy gauges to put in their cars and also small firms owned by 1-2 individuals who purchase products to run their business. The second category - government agencies, is the biggest. In fact, the U.S. government is the biggest single purchaser of products and services in the country, spending more than $300 billion annually. But this category also includes state and local governments. The third category, institutions, includes schools, hospitals and nursing homes, churches and charities. Finally, resellers consist of wholesalers, brokers and industrial distributors.

So what are the meaningful differences between B2B and B2C marketing?

A B2C sale is to a "Consumer" i.e. an individual who may be influenced by other factors such as family members or friends, but ultimately the sale is to a single person who pays for the transaction. A B2B sale is to a "Business" i.e. organization or firm. Given the complexity of organizational structure, B2B sales typically involve multiple decision makers. The marketing mix is affected by the B2B uniqueness which include complexity of business products and services, diversity of demand and the differing nature of the sales itself (including fewer customers buying larger volumes). Because there are some important subtleties to the B2B sale, the issues are broken down beyond just the original 4 Ps developed by McCarthy.

Read more about this topic:  Business Marketing

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