What Is B2C (Business-to-Consumer)?

What Is Business-to-Consumer (B2C)?
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What is business-to-consumer? Often abbreviated to B2C, business-to-consumer is a broad category for all “personal use” transactions: for the customer’s own enjoyment, not a business use. While “consumer” describes an individual, it can also apply to a household or social group. 

B2C commerce can be in goods or services. B2C service providers, from home improvement to telecom to healthcare, tend to market directly to consumers, while B2C goods can be marketed directly or through retailers. In some cases, goods and services are closely related.

Top business-to-consumer marketing techniques

  •  TV commercials
  •  Digital video
  • Radio ads
  • Direct mail
  • Email offers and newsletters
  •  Social media marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Referral marketing
  • Retail marketing — in stores
  • Online retail through e-commerce stores
  • Online retail through platforms

B2C example: Telecom

The battle for market share among smartphone goods and service providers is so competitive that all players maximize retail and direct marketing approaches to grab consumers’ attention. TV and digital commercials, social media, influencer campaigns and referral marketing are all part of the typical marketing plan.

In addition, most companies in this space have as much of a retail presence as they can afford. This includes everything from airport vending machines to mall kiosks. The thinking is, while consumers may be married to their iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, there are a bevy of related products and services — charging pads, cables, headphones, mobile hotspots, prepaid plans, SIM cards — that people constantly need, and should be available within arm’s reach.

B2C marketing: tone and strategy

B2C marketing usually has a personal voice and strives to deliver information in a memorable but quick way. As a rule, the lower the price point, the simpler the message… and the more potential buyers the company is looking to reach.

This is because when it comes to a $10 product, consumers usually aren’t evaluating potential purchases as carefully as business buyers are because a consumer usually isn’t bulk-buying. However, this becomes inversely true the more expensive the product is.

Business-to-consumer example: Auto

A consumer looking to buy a car is going to evaluate the options carefully and probably shop around. For an individual, a car is a big purchase that they probably only make every few years. Meanwhile, a local contractor with 10 trucks might lease three more trucks at once if he gets a big job and needs to ramp up capabilities.

B2C: the evolution of consumer goods marketing

In some ways, cutting out the middleman and marketing directly to consumers is easier today than ever before thanks to social media and e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy. But there are always new challenges, in particular, the downfall of local retail brick-and-mortar stores.

Therefore, these days, most B2C companies sell goods directly to consumers online and through marketplaces, while also making efforts to find retail channels that make sense.

Business-to-consumer example: Personal care product

Many personal care brands have been started by entrepreneurs who began by experimenting and creating products at home, selling them to their immediate circles of acquaintances. As the ability to make more product increases, they may begin to sell the product in local retailers.

In parallel, they would set up an online store and sell through Etsy or Amazon. They could market inexpensively through Facebook and Instagram, while also working hand-in-hand with retail stockists to strategically market their product to target buyers. All of this is B2C. Their first B2B transaction might be, for example, a local hotel buying the products to use as in-room toiletries. While the end-users are hotel customers, the buyer is the hotel: a business.

As this example shows, consumers and business customers can be closely related, and the marketing that suits one can be subtly modified for the other. It is most important to understand a brand’s ideal customer and their needs before launching a marketing campaign. The packaging and brand voice that successfully sells skincare products will not work to sell trucks.

Cutting out the middleman and marketing directly to consumers is easier today than ever before, thanks to social media and e-commerce marketplaces. Learn more about #B2C. Click To Tweet

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About the author

Lena Katz

Lena Katz's credits as a development producer, casting producer and locations manager include cable TV (WEtv, Revolt, HGTV), and digital-first productions (WhaleRock, mikeroweWORKS, Tastemade). She worked directly for major brands including Suzuki, Hormel and Brown-Forman. Learn more about her company at Variable Content.