The New Consumer isn’t B2B or B2C

Assuming a generation gap in consumer behavior isn’t the only broad misconception fooling businesses and marketers. Many also believe that B2C buyers are far more affected by the change media environment than B2B. But Salesforce research shows the opposite: 83% of B2B buyers, compared with 75% of B2C buyers, feel more informed than ever before because of technology. In fact, across every category B2B buyers are more affected by the new environment than their B2C counterparts:

The same sensitivity holds true around servicing products post-purchase. Our data show that 60% of B2B buyers say it is very important to receive in-app support, compared with only 43% of B2C consumers. Furthermore, 82% of B2B buyers say personalized care affects their loyalty, compared with 69% of B2C consumers. B2B buyers also hold higher expectations for the digital future. By 2020 63% of B2B buyers expect their vendors to provide customer service via augmented reality.

This brings us to another major shift in thinking for marketers—away from our formal ideas of B2B versus B2C buying and toward a distinction based on the perceived risk associated with the purchase. The riskier the purchase, the greater the consideration it requires and the longer the sales cycle will be. So, we should look to classify buyer behavior based on the level of consideration involved in the purchase, rather than the vertical of business or any other factor. Generally, this means traditional B2C purchases are mostly low consideration, while traditional B2B purchases are high consideration, but the exceptions even call this broad stroke into question.

For example, consumers booking a safari in Africa will act much more like traditional B2B buyers because of the risk associated with their decision. There is much less risk in booking a $600 weekend at a hotel three hours from home compared with $10K per week on another continent. Thus, the consumer will give the purchase much more consideration and exhibit very different buying behavior. It also means that even buyers for the same product will have different journeys based on the risk they perceive. Buyers familiar with the market perceive lower risk, and their journey is shorter.

To work in synchronicity with the Infinite Era, business leaders and we marketers must lose our preconceived bias about various categories of consumers and embrace the new decision-making model, which is based on perceived risk. We must also account for the fact that nearly all decisions are now considered, and that consumers undertake that consideration in a very personal