B2B vs. B2C: What’s the Difference?

Gwen Shields


What’s the deal with B2B vs. B2C? What do they mean, and what’s the difference? Frankly, it’s pretty simple. (And as a B2B marketing agency, we’d know.)

The “B” stands for business. So B2B commerce is simply Business-to-Business – companies selling solutions, parts and commodities to other companies, typically to be used to create consumer goods. The “C,” as you’d imagine, stands for consumer. Thus, B2C commerce is Business-to-Consumer – companies selling to end users. Everyone is familiar with B2C; you do it every day. B2C is basically another word for retail – buying stuff. That candy bar from the grocery store? B2C. Those Nike sneakers you bought on Zappos? B2C. A B2B company sells products and services to other companies. Examples of B2B are a technology company selling workforce management software to a corporation or a spark plug manufacturer selling to an automobile manufacturer.

B2B vs. B2C: Can a company be both?

Yes! A law firm is a great example here. When an attorney is working on a will or estate plan for you, he’s doing B2C work. When he’s working on a succession plan for an LLC, that’s B2B work. Insurance companies and tech companies are classic examples, too. Google, for instance, has both its standard search engine – meant for consumers – and Google Enterprise Search, which is used by businesses. B2C and B2B, all under one roof.

Macro-Targeting vs. Micro-Targeting

From the company’s perspective, selling into B2B and B2C channels is very different. B2B sales often consist of high volume – 1,000+ hard drives at once vs. one of the laptops they went into. But the number of buyers that can be targeted is precisely the opposite. B2C companies can cast a wide net – there are tons of consumers out there, after all, even if the market is niche. B2B companies, by contrast, have relatively few potential buyers to target; they typically specialize in particular vertical or horizontal markets. This is particularly true in niche industries, like for B2B industrial companies.

B2B vs. B2C: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple. B2B means businesses selling to other businesses. B2C means businesses selling to consumers like you.

Gwen Shields

As Altitude’s COO, Gwen Shields oversees client-facing systems and processes to improve service and retention, ensuring production operations run smoothly and effectively. Her exceptional problem-solving skills and technical knowledge allow Gwen to understand and guide Altitude’s core base of technology-focused clients.
Gwen earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and worked in information systems and tech sales before becoming a part of Team Altitude in 2008.