- Brief summary
- Detailed summary
- B2C marketing tools
B2C Marketing: Brief Summary
B2C marketing stands for “business-to-consumer marketing” and refers to measures used to attract domestic consumers to a particular product, service or brand. In terms of its content, this activity is naturally very different from B2B (business-to-business) marketing. In practice, this is especially true in regard to its broad orientation: While the B2B sector often targets specific businesses as customers, this is not usually possible in a B2C environment due to the vast number of potential buyers.
One of the most important marketing principles is to focus your measures on the target group, which is precisely why a distinction is made between the B2B and B2C markets. The notion that advertising needs to be tailored to potential buyers is not new, but the growing markets and the increasing internationalization of trade have created new challenges for those seeking to win retail customers. Unlike with the B2B sector, one cannot fail to notice that there is now a huge mass of potential customers who can no longer be reached via individual, customized approaches.
Even companies offering goods or services to regional markets or those marketing a specialized niche product can rarely afford to target individual customers or small customer groups because of the immense effort involved. Therefore, B2C marketing must address a broad customer base. However, this is not the only challenge that has to be overcome. Generally speaking, B2C products are self-explanatory, or at least their basic premise is so simple that the customer can quickly understand how and for what purpose they should be used. And while at first sight this may seem to offer an advantage – because, after all, a customer would rather buy a product that he or she already understands – the reality is that this usually makes it very difficult to differentiate your company’s merchandise from rival goods and draw attention to the USPs of your own particular product.
In addition, domestic consumers often make their purchasing decisions very quickly and often on emotional rather than rational grounds. B2C marketing must therefore be geared toward a broad customer base while conveying the advantages of the product in a narrow yet emotionally appealing manner.
B2C Marketing Tools
In essence, there are four specific areas of B2C marketing in which you can exercise a measure of strategic control. These are:
- Distribution policy
- Communication strategy
Regardless of whether your product is cheese slices, furniture or children’s toys, price is most definitely one of the deciding factors in the domestic retail business. However, unlike in the B2B business market, pricing tends to be judged subjectively. For example, domestic consumers are often willing to pay a higher price for a branded product even if it doesn’t offer any real advantage over other rival products. Therefore, your pricing strategy should reflect the positioning of the company’s own brand, but of course your competitor’s pricing policy and your own production costs will also play an important role.
Time-limited discount campaigns are a tried-and-tested pricing strategy in the B2C sector because the buyer gains the impression that he or she must act quickly in order not to miss the offer. The well-known threshold pricing approach also works well – especially in the low-price sector – because the psychological appeal to the customer subtly implies that the price is a little lower than it really is. In the case of more expensive products, on the other hand, purchase prices should be set at sensible levels so that even the less well-to-do customers can afford them, which also has the effect of increasing the pool of potential buyers.
In regard to products, B2C marketing aims to identify and promote a number of additional features and benefits of the product beyond its actual core use. This could, for example, include a highly recognizable design, such as the curving red lettering used by Coca-Cola or perhaps the adoption of a form of packaging that is particularly easy to open and close. In addition, further offers and services could be linked to the product, such as a recipe that’s printed on the packaging. These kinds of initiatives make it easier to distance a product from the competition while also offering additional benefits that are likely to increase the customer’s loyalty to your brand.
However, as in the case of your pricing, these measures must also fit in with your general positioning in the market. High-quality luxury goods should therefore be distinguished by appropriately lavish packaging while the more straightforward and relatively cheap items should not be weighed down by superfluous paraphernalia that only obscures its core use.
There are two main ways of distributing your products: direct sales and distribution via intermediaries. Both of these variants have certain advantages and disadvantages from the marketing perspective. With direct selling, it is the personal contact with the customer that is especially helpful. Product features can be communicated firsthand without further interpretation, and likewise, customer feedback is direct and unfiltered. This makes it easier to determine whether any specific marketing measures produce the desired effect. Furthermore, direct selling is usually more profitable and cost-effective than selling through intermediaries. However, this method tends to allow very limited market coverage because, in online trading, even the best shop is just one among many, which can make your product more difficult for potential buyers to find.
Indirect distribution uses intermediaries such as retailers to introduce your goods to the market. This ensures a high market coverage and also helps to raise awareness of your product. However, this reduces the profit margin because your intermediary will have to be paid for the services provided. In addition, there is no direct contact with the customer, which means that how your product is ultimately presented is at least partly at the discretion of the retailer.
In most situations, indirect distribution is the recommended solution for B2C marketing because it is always important to reach a large number of end users as quickly as possible. However, direct selling may be a useful approach to consider in the case of “special interest products” which are only likely to appeal to a comparatively small number of buyers.
Your chosen communication strategy is probably your most important B2C marketing tool. Product differences are typically only slight, thus allowing little room for direct competition in terms of differentiated functions and features. Therefore, a good communication strategy really can help to create a more distinctive product. Branding is particularly important in this respect, regardless of which price bracket the product seeks to address. If a buyer can recognize a brand, that then increases the likelihood that he or she will opt for products bearing that brand.
When it comes to branding, it is not simply a question of convincing retail consumers by logical argument. It’s usually more effective to link the brand to easily remembered emotional messages.
B2C marketing clearly adopts many of the same principles as other marketing areas, but the methods used are markedly different. Because you are addressing a mass market, measures that are only appropriate for targeting individuals or small groups can no longer be employed. Furthermore, rational sales arguments play a relatively subordinate role while the creation of an emotional bond and the customer’s perception of the brand assume much greater importance.
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