The marketing mix in B2C versus B2B markets
In discussing how the marketing mix tools may apply within each broad category of market we have to be careful because as we have seen there are several different types of B2C and B2B markets. Bearing this in mind, the following represent some of the key considerations in the application of the marketing mix tools in each type of market.
The marketing mix in B2C markets-
As already mentioned, B2C marketing involves marketing to customers purchasing for their own or family needs and for private use and motives. In this type of context, although we find all sorts of different combinations of the marketing mix according to an individual company’s positioning strategy, and so on, as a generalisation when it comes to the mix elements we might expect to find the following.
1)Product: aspects of the product element of the mix that are particularly important in B2C contexts include branding, packaging, logos and design. The product itself is often standardised. Branding and brand image in particular are important as these provide reassurance for a customer and facilitate relatively easy brand choice. In many B2C markets products and brands have short product life-cycles, often due to fashion influences or consumers simply becoming bored. New prod-uct development and innovation is important in B2C markets then, if only by way of repositioning, repackaging, and so on, in order to keep customers interested.
2)Promotion: with regard to the promotional element of the mix there is likely to be heavy emphasis on non-personal tools of promotion such as advertising rather than personal selling. Advertising will generally be aimed at the mass market and will again tend to stress brand image and persuasive advertising messages rather than detailed factual messages. Sales promotion tools are used extensively and brand and corporate image are important.
Price: the importance and role of price in B2C marketing varies enormously across different products and markets, but value for money is likely to be particularly important and predominant in customer choice. Negotiation between buyer and seller regarding price is likely to be used infrequently in B2C marketing and selling. Nor is tendering widely used, though the importance and prevalence of negotiation will depend upon the culture in a market. In some cultures, therefore, negotiation is the order of the day even for B2C marketing.
Place: distribution in B2C markets will often need to be intensive and will often take place through intermediaries and particularly, of course, retailers. Although relationship marketing, particularly through the brand element of the marketing mix, may still be important in B2C markets, the degree of brand switching in this type of market often means that relationships are difficult to develop and main-tain with customers. Finally, although we should not dismiss it entirely, in the past customer service played a less important role in B2C marketing than it did in B2B markets, though this is changing as markets become even more competitive and B2C customers more selective.
The marketing mix in B2B markets-
Again remembering that there are several different types of B2B market, and again with the caveat that even within each of these markets the marketing mix will differ even between companies in the same category of B2B market, the following repre-sent some of the considerations and differences in applying the marketing mix in B2B markets compared to B2C.
1) Product: in B2B markets buyers frequently choose on technical product specifi-cations. Products are often customised to individual customer requirements, with quality assurance, and product after-sales and technical services being of particular importance. The reliability of the product, together with the degree of back-up service being offered are crucial elements of the marketing mix in B2B markets.
2) Promotion: in terms of the promotional element of the mix in B2B markets, much more emphasis is likely to be placed on personal selling as opposed to the adver-tising element, something we shall return to in more detail in later chapters. As in consumer markets, however, sales promotion is used extensively in B2B markets and especially when marketing to distributors/intermediaries. Publicity is also a valuable promotional tool in B2B marketing, especially when launching new products. Finally, direct marketing can be a very effective promotional tool in B2B markets as mailing lists tend to be more accurate and the message can be tailored more closely to individual customer needs.
3) Price: although price is a major factor in B2B markets, it would be a mistake to assume that all B2B customers buy only on price. They do not. In fact, as in consumer markets, it is overall value that counts. However, price is always going to be a key factor in the marketing mix in B2B markets. Prices are much more likely to be negotiated in the B2B market and we may get different processes for pricing and particularly quoting prices, such as tendering.
4) Place: with regard to place in B2B markets, although intermediaries are used, distribution is often direct. The logistics aspects of distribution are particularly important in B2B markets as speed and, above all, reliability of delivery are vital. This emphasis on reliability of delivery has increased in recent years with the introduction of just-in-time (JIT) and flexible manufacturing systems in purchasing and production.