Nishtha Asthana
May 21, 2024

The blurring lines between B2B and B2C marketing strategies

CAMPAIGN 360: Marketers discuss how converging B2B and B2C strategies allow them to rethink and benefit from each other's insights and best practices.

The blurring lines between B2B and B2C marketing strategies

The distinction between B2B and B2C marketing is becoming less pronounced as customer expectations evolve. Today’s consumers demand the same level of personalisation and engagement in their professional roles as they do in their personal lives. This was the topic of one of the panel discussions at Campaign Asia-Pacific’s flagship event Campaign360.

The duality of roles individuals play in both personal and professional spheres was a key theme discussed by the panel.

Danielle Jin, SVP of marketing for Asia Pacific at Visa highlighted how their marketing efforts span both B2C and B2B domains. On the consumer side, Visa focuses on solutions for cross-border travel, international e-commerce, and remittances while their B2B initiatives involve facilitating commercial transactions and providing consulting services within the payment ecosystem, ensuring a cohesive brand experience.

Jin emphasised that modern marketing strategies must consider the fluidity between personal and professional identities.

Visa B2B campaign in China

"Individuals often wear multiple hats, transitioning between personal and professional roles. This duality places them in different mindsets, especially in the context of B2B decision-making versus B2C interactions," Jin stated.

While B2B decisions typically involve multiple influencers and a longer decision-making journey, every B2B decision-maker is also a B2C consumer in their personal life. This highlights the importance of understanding that marketing, ultimately, appeals to the emotions and experiences of individuals, whether in a professional or personal capacity.

“Recognising this emotional aspect is crucial, as studies show that a significant portion of decisions, up to 70%, are driven by emotions, with rationalisation following the decision made. Therefore, marketing efforts should aim to resonate with individuals on a personal level, fostering a sense of community and connection,” shared Jin.

Jaspreet Kaur, head of marketing and strategic planning at institutional caterer Sodexo illustrated the blend of B2B and B2C dynamics in her industry, where personal preferences play a significant role even in objective discussions such as cost savings. This blend creates a complex landscape where personalisation is key.

“Despite the need for objectivity, personal experience in the office environment becomes paramount. It’s about creating a balance between professional requirements and personal preferences,” Kaur explained.

Sudip Saha Senior Director, Global Partner Growth Initiatives, Dell Technologies gave an example to explain this intertwined landscape.

“When products and solutions serve both consumer and B2B markets, it can be advantageous yet tricky. For instance, if someone has a great experience with a PC at work, they may recommend the same product to their family. However, if the experience is negative, it could lead to losing a customer,” shared Saha.

Evolving customer expectations

The stereotype of the B2B customer is evolving. B2C customers are often seen as individual consumers while B2B clients are typically thought of as faceless entities. However, this perception is changing and both types of customers seek quality, value, and convenience.

Charlene Ree, founder & CEO of EternityX drew attention to the role of data in empowering this.

“In B2B marketing, we can leverage detailed data analysis and insights to better gauge our approach. So overall, B2B is more regulated and structured. In comparison in B2C, the decision-making process is shorter but influenced by dynamic factors,” Ree noted.

For B2C clients, EternityX uses customer data platforms (CDPs) to better understand and influence their decision-making process, providing them with more insight cycles.

“While both B2B and B2C marketing rely on data, their approaches differ significantly and so do the duration,” added Ree.

For Jin, a balance between data and emotional appeal is necessary to connect with individuals and their businesses effectively. “Relying solely on facts won’t win over decision-makers,” she noted.

Kaur agreed, “Both B2B and B2C customers are fundamentally human.”

Highlighting one key difference she noted. “Unlike B2B, where decisions are more data-driven and focused on long-term relationships, B2C interactions require immediate satisfaction to ensure ongoing loyalty. Recognising this human element has transformed our customer interactions, emphasising the need for personal engagement and meaningful experiences in both spheres.”

Purpose-driven marketing

For many marketers, one of the most powerful brand levers continues to be its purpose.

Saha shared Dell’s work in this field as an example of how it brings together the B2B and B2C audience. “Our new campaign, "Welcome to Now," highlights how ideas can spark innovation at both individual and business levels.”

One of the projects under this campaign involved tourists contributing images of the Great Barrier Reef, which were analysed using a platform that Dell developed in partnership with experts. The project exemplified collaboration between consumers and B2B stakeholders for reef conservation, with tourists collecting data and experts providing insights.

Jin also shared an example of the “Where You Shop Matters”: campaign which was launched by Visa with a B2C concept and then evolved into a B2B proposition.

The campaign supported small businesses in Australia, especially after the bushfires and drought, by encouraging consumers to shop locally for their holiday needs, boosting community economies.

Kaur underscored the importance of purpose-driven marketing in the B2C space. “As one of the largest service providers globally, we engage in initiatives around food waste, sustainable sourcing, and partnerships with local NGOs and food partners. These efforts create a human connection and enhance brand loyalty among our B2C customers.”

B2B versus B2C brand loyalty

While making customers happy has long been a focus in B2C, it's now gaining traction in B2B. However, in B2B, what drives loyalty isn't just delighting customers with great experiences, but also making it easy for them to solve their problems.

Ree shared the importance of an omnichannel approach and consistent brand messaging across all touchpoints.

She added, “Credibility is crucial. Social media also plays a significant role, with over 80% of decision-makers using them. These platforms serve as hubs for industry insights, fostering community engagement and meaningful discussions.”

Sodexo is leveraging B2C practices to better connect with B2B customers. “One effective strategy has been utilising influencers, a common B2C tactic. We've created micro-influencers within our industry by engaging our employees and thought leaders. This approach has been incredibly successful, as it helps humanise our B2B clients”, shared Kaur.

Saha highlighted a massive branding exercise that Dell undertook where they merged the consumer-focused website and Dell Technologies' robust B2B infrastructure solutions, which ranged from solutions for small and medium businesses to data center sales, creating a seamless customer experience, true of a big brand.

Precision targeting, personalised messaging, and using AI to aid in hyper-targeting were some of the other tactics, discussed by the panelists.

In conclusion, the Campaign360 panel underscored the need for marketers to adapt and innovate. As the lines between B2B and B2C continue to blur, those who can seamlessly integrate strategies across these domains will be best positioned to engage and retain customers.

Campaign Asia

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