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B2B vs. B2C: What’s the Difference?

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.