How does B2C work

B2C marketing: Marketing to win private customers

B2C marketing: Marketing for consumer goods

At möbel.de you can choose the "right" one from over 30,000 beds, Amazon has around 7,000 offers under the term "garden chairs" and at Saturn you can at least try to find the right one from almost 200 different printers in the online shop.

As difficult as it is for buyers to find the optimal product, it is also difficult for suppliers to stand out from the crowd. Although the actual need for each of these products to be satisfied is quite simple (sleep well, sit comfortably in the garden or print out a bill), finding the right offer is usually more of a torture than a pleasure for most consumers due to the enormous selection.

B2C marketing (business-to-consumer marketing) deals with precisely this problem for companies. It is intended to answer how a product or service must be positioned on the end customer market so that it can find as many private buyers as possible. B2C marketing makes use of these four essential marketing instruments:

The combination of all marketing instruments varies depending on the industry and company and is referred to as the marketing mix in B2C marketing.

Special features of B2C marketing

A B2C business model has certain properties that are of great importance for the alignment of B2C marketing. B2C marketing is characterized in particular by the following features:

  • Large number of anonymous customers
  • The purchase is usually made from a sales partner (indirect sales; i.e. the agent must first be convinced of the product)
  • Fast and emotional purchase decision by the customer
  • The customer usually decides alone about the purchase of the product

At the same time, the type of product has an impact on B2C marketing. A distinction is made here between consumer goods with a short lifespan (where a purchase decision is made directly) such as food and consumer goods with a longer lifespan such as televisions or washing machines, which are usually compared before buying.

These characteristics of B2C marketing shown differ in essential features compared to B2B marketing (business-to-business marketing), which only has companies as customers. The following shows which marketing instruments can be used in which way in B2C marketing.

Multi-level distribution is often crucial in B2C marketing

A manufacturer of high-quality children's toys would like to sell its products throughout Germany. As part of the distribution policy of his B2C marketing, he now has to deal in particular with the sales strategy. Should he sell his goods directly to the end customer or choose indirect sales through one or more dealers?

Many product manufacturers are faced with this question when designing their B2C marketing, but the answer is often the same: If you want to reach a large number of end customers, then indirect sales via a dealer network is usually the best way. By switching on the wholesale or retail trade, the products can reach a significantly higher number of end customers and possibly even be sold in other countries. Setting up your own branch network, however, is usually too cost-intensive in B2C marketing and is therefore only an option for large corporations.

A broad-based sales network also has disadvantages in B2C marketing. Multiple sales levels reduce control over the sales process for your own products. The product prices for end customers can only be influenced to a small extent and the type of product placement in retail stores is difficult to control. For companies with a low-price strategy as part of their B2C marketing, the lower level of control does not play a role, but manufacturers of premium products with a high-price strategy must pay attention to the external presentation of their goods, as this can otherwise damage the brand.

Communication policy to differentiate from competition

Do you know how many different manufacturers of ballpoint pens there are? Markets with hundreds of different providers of similar products are nothing unusual in B2C marketing, but they make it extremely difficult for the end customer to differentiate between them. The result is often poor customer loyalty.

The communication policy in B2C marketing must therefore be designed to stand out or differentiate yourself from the competition. For example, branding can be pursued through intensive advertising measures in mass media such as TV, print or the Internet in order to stand out from the competition through higher brand awareness. The more emotional and memorable an advertisement, the greater the branding effect.

But it is also important that the communication policy - just like all other instruments in B2C marketing - are geared towards the corporate strategy. You can only afford elaborate advertising measures if you either have a very high-margin offer (e.g. as a quality leader) or can achieve very large sales (e.g. as a cost leader).

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Price policy in B2C marketing: focus on discount campaigns

The pricing policy is an important instrument in B2C marketing, as it enables further differentiation from the competition. At the beginning there is always the question of how one would like to position oneself: low price strategy or high price strategy? With a low-price strategy, the profit margin and product quality are lower, the profit is generated through sales to the masses. In the high-price strategy, on the other hand, the focus is on product quality. The target group is more specifically defined and the profit margin is higher.

In the context of the low-price strategy in particular, one instrument of price policy is used particularly frequently in B2C marketing: discounts and special offers. Since a quick and emotional purchase decision is often made in B2C marketing, customers can be influenced by such campaigns in their product selection at the point of sale, i.e. directly in the shop. Broken prices such as 0.99 or 7.98 euros suggest an extremely tight calculation and make the product more attractive. Bright red offer signs with inscriptions such as "50% discount" or "Offer only valid today" urge customers to buy in B2C marketing.

Special characteristics of the service in B2C marketing

The service sector now accounts for around 75% of all employed persons in Germany. It is therefore worth taking a look at the special characteristics of a service. This differs from the classic product in key points, which affects the design of B2C marketing:

  • A service is immaterial
  • When it comes to service, the customer is often involved as an external factor, for example at the hairdresser

Due to the immateriality of the service, it cannot be touched or viewed beforehand. It is therefore not possible to check the quality. This lack of haptic purchase argument can lead to a loss of trust in the provider. To counteract this, communication policy in B2C marketing must focus on building trust. By naming references, a free test phase of the service or increased branding measures, trust can be built.

Equally important in B2C marketing: If a customer is involved in the process of creating a service as an external factor (e.g. when designing a website), it is particularly important to focus on the customer's well-being. If a customer feels comfortable while the service is being provided, customer satisfaction can increase significantly, which leads to increased customer loyalty.

Differences between B2C marketing and B2B marketing

Business models with business customers as a target group differ from B2C marketing in a few ways.

In B2B marketing, for example, a larger group of people decides on the purchase of a product, which affects the design of the communication policy. Business customers are also less likely to be reached via classic advertising media such as TV or print - instead, in contrast to B2C marketing, the focus is on trade fairs and events.

If after-sales service plays a subordinate role in B2C marketing, the product policy in B2B marketing must emphasize service as a decisive sales argument, since the products are more durable and require more explanation.

The type of sales also differs from sales in B2C marketing. Instead of indirect sales across several sales levels, B2B companies often rely on direct sales. The number of potential customers is often too small and the product requires too much explanation to leave the sale to a middleman.

A detailed description of marketing to business customers can be found on our B2B marketing page.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.