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B2B vs B2C Elements of Value

Marketing to B2B and B2C is very different. Right?

I remember once I got approval to buy new laptops for our department. I was working with our IT department to figure out the best laptops - which had the best graphics cards, the appropriate processing ability, the best for data crunching, etc - and I made a recommendation. I took that decision to the executive team and they shot me down.

What? Why?

I had done all my research, I was backed up with data! I knew what I was talking about. At the root of the problem was the price tag. I wasn't asking for the highest-end models, I was just asking for mid-range work computers.

The problem was that my boss was comparing it to personal computers that he was purchasing from Costco or Best Buy. He was so confused on why the computers were so expensive when I "could just run to Costco and get one for half the price."

This made me remember a marketing principle that I've learned:

B2B and B2C Marketing Positioning is Very Different

This example explains why. People purchase things in a different way if they're purchasing for the business. The perception of money and their motivations for the purchase are very different.

I had a boss who would always ask me, "If this was your money and you were making the decision would you do this?" And it always drove me nuts because, first, I didn't have a million dollars to spend on an advertising budget and second, the reasons for those decisions are inherently different!

I think most of us are familiar with the Elements of Value Pyramid. If you're not, the basic concept is that you place the benefits of your brand somewhere on this pyramid. If you're at the bottom, customers don't necessarily care about "brand" as much as they care about function - think batteries.

Businesses try and climb up the pyramid by offering services or solutions that are more emotional or life-changing. The higher your company can get up the pyramid, the "stickier" your customer loyalty becomes.

Harvard Business Review has a great article that addresses the same pyramid but in a B2B setting.

Notice that the elements of the pyramid are very different. If you want to appeal to a B2B sale, you need to take in to account the buyer and their relationship with the company.

Overall, consider what Gary Lilien, Arvind Rangaswamy and Arnaud De Bruyn wrote in 2017. (Principles of Marketing Engineering and Analytics, 3d Edition)

The consumer buying center involves five possible customer


  • Initiator: The person who suggests the idea of buying an offering.

  • Influencer: A person whose advice influences the purchase.

  • Decider: The person decides what, when, where, or how to buy.

  • Buyer: The person who makes the actual purchase.

  • User: The person who uses the product or service.

Although organizational buying centers may seem drastically

different from personal purchasing, the categories of persons who

play roles are similar:

  • Influencers: Those who influence the buying decision by providing information or advice or defining the specifications for the product or service. (These people are not necessarily employees of the firm; they might be consultants or members of competitor, supplier, or buyer organizations.)

  • Approvers: People who authorize the purchase, either financially or technically.

  • Deciders: Often referred to as the buying center, the people who make a (group) purchase decision.

  • Buyer: The person who actually places the order (often a professional purchasing officer or possibly an automated computer program).

  • Gatekeepers: People who have the power to sanction or block a supplier or prevent the flow of information among buying center members.

  • Users: The people who actually use the product or service.

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