It’s often thought that business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) market research are two sides of the same coin. In actuality, we think they are two separate coins. While each focuses on the buying habits of consumers, the makeup of those consumers is fundamentally different. B2C consumers frequently reach the multiple millions across certain industries while B2B consumers often span only the single digits. The few consumers that a B2B company has, though, consume a lot. B2C consumers are usually equipped to make decisions alone, whereas B2B consumers represent a complex and ever-changing purchasing unit. Individual consumers may be swayed (and often are) by personal gut instinct, while business consumers must factor in a more rational and egalitarian approach when it comes time to buy. The relationship a company has with a business customer is simply much more complicated and nuanced than the one it has with an individual. For these reasons, market researchers must tweak their strategies and questions when researching within a B2B setting. Here are four important questions we think can and should be answered by B2B market research:
What are Emerging Industry Trends?
Your business-to-business clients are experts in their respective fields. Mine that data source to uncover imminent ideas, policies and events that could influence your business opportunities in the future.
What are Our B2B Partners’ Buying Criteria?
Because your B2B partners purchase a significant amount from you (as compared to the average individual), they inevitably forge intimate relationships with your company. It’s important that you explore what they like and dislike, not only about your product or service, but about the entire sales process, as well. Are there certain things they particularly like? What are the things that might prevent them from continuing a relationship with you? What keeps them (or prevents them from being) loyal to you? The answers to these questions will enable you to address and then enhance or rectify issues affecting the ways and reasons why your B2B clients buy your product or service.
How Can We Position Our Product or Service to Maximize Its Usefulness and/or Profitability Within a B2B Setting?
B2B clients are especially attuned to the bottom-line. The successful purchase of materials and resources can make the difference in their own product’s success or failure. It’s similarly important for those companies providing the raw materials to be aware of the ways in which they can maximize either their product’s usefulness or its profitability. Ask how your B2B clients use your product? How often do they make a purchase? Is there a way you can augment your product (i.e., provide promotions, deals, incentives, etc.) to better provide value for your B2B consumers? Knowing how to best position your product or service is often just as important as its features.
What are Our B2B Partners’ Demographics?
This isn’t the same as demographic information from individuals. B2B sellers don’t really need to know the nitty-gritty details of their consumers. But they do need to understand their partners’ lines of business, including the types of products or services they provide with your product or service, as well as the ultimate needs of their end users. To provide a superior product, your B2B market research needs to uncover why a company needs you. You get that information by studying the ways your product is used and by whom.
B2B market research projects require a skill set that incorporates strategic planning, along with practical execution. Contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR) to learn how we can leverage quality market research to best uncover B2B insights for you.
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