Some marketing blogs out there are proclaiming the death of the time-tested marketing terms B2B and B2C. Now, they say, it’s about human-to-human, person-to-person, business-to-individual, and so forth.

Are B2B and B2C Really Dead?

In short: no.

Though in some respects it is true that you need to market to individuals, there are big differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

Here are the primary reasons why acronyms such as P2P shouldn’t be adopted by marketers:

  • Businesses don’t make decisions based on emotions – It is true that businesses are made of people, but the larger the financial decision, the less it is based on emotions. What are B2B purchase decisions based on, then?

The bottom line.

Businesses are profit-based operations, where everything is dictated by profits and ROI, from the brand to the marketing strategy. While it’s true that individual business people are susceptible to likes and dislikes, their purchase decisions are dictated by business interests, unlike the consumer, who has other interests at heart.

  • Consumers are more influenced by emotion – Fashion, smartphones, and even food, on the other hand, are often based on emotional needs, such as the need to belong, the need to be understood, the need to feel important, and so forth. Cars are an excellent example: they all get you to where you need to go, but some can cost four figures while others can cost six or more.
  • Person-to-person doesn’t add an actionable framework – While person-to-person marketing is an idealistic, revolutionary, and even somewhat romantic notion, it doesn’t actually solve anything. In fact, it only removes two longstanding marketing frameworks that help delineate two fundamentally different marketing approaches: one that is based on appealing to emotions and another that is based on appealing to logic.
  • Person-to-person just hasn’t taken off – For the reasons mentioned above, this concept simply hasn’t gone anywhere. While sometimes gems languish in obscurity, this is marketing we’re talking about here…anything that helps make money would spread like wildfire. Just take a look at content marketing, affiliate marketing, and online advertising.

 Why B2B and B2C Are Still the Best Marketing Terms

The major problem with the human-to-human or person-to-person marketing “strategy” is that it removes business interests from the equation. Briefly, here are some reasons why B2B and B2C will always be relevant, useful terms.

  • Businesses will always be profit-driven entities, and B2B marketing will always cater to those interests – Business interests, such as profit, market share, and brand equity, are essential to the business world and the business-to-business marketplace. By eliminating business entirely, the human-to-human concept takes away the essential driver for all business-to-business transactions.
  • Consumers will always be people – Profits are only one of the motivating forces that drive consumers. Emotional gratification, physical gratification, and intellectual stimulation are just a few of the other drives that marketers use to appeal to the consumer marketplace.
  • Consumers will always drive the demand that drives the B2B marketplace, but they are independent marketplaces – In business terminology, this is referred to as the value chain or the supply chain. This chain can be thought of as a hierarchy extending from the consumers, who demand products and services, down to the suppliers, who manufacture and provide those products.

Though an extended discussion of these concepts is beyond the scope of this article, it is important to note that B2B transactions and decisions are based from a “producer” mindset. Decisions and the marketing that appeals to decision makers, therefore, are more complex and dynamic. Choosing to purchase a pack of gum is a simple decision based on emotional or physical desire. But a decision to hire a new staff member is much more involved and based upon a business’s productivity goals and economic needs.  

When you look at it in context, the reasons for the separation between B2B and B2C marketing are pretty obvious.

There are at least two possible reasons that marketers developed this marketing strategy:

  • To make B2B more humanitarian – One reason marketers and business people gravitate away from the B2B and B2C pair of acronyms is that they tend to de-personalize the nature of business transactions. It is commendable to attempt to humanize the B2B world, but unrealistic: capitalism and businesses are quite simply profit-driven processes.
  • To sound revolutionary – Marketers are experts at creating hype and getting attention, but hype isn’t always substantial. With the advent of the internet, for instance, came a host of new terms and proclamations, such as “advertising is dead.” Anyone who has spent more than a few seconds online knows that advertising is more alive than ever.

It may be true that B2B and B2C tend to de-personalize marketing and business transactions to an extent. But they also contextualize transactions and allow businesses to market much more effectively.