Last Updated: November 14, 2020

It all comes down to size, speed, and need.

As opposed to businesses—which typically make large purchases to meet previously identified business needst—an end consumer typically makes much smaller purchases, sometimes to meet a “need” only thought of after seeing the product for sale.

Consumer purchases take much less time—seconds, for an impulse buy; perhaps a couple of weeks if shopping for a specific item at the best price. The decision is made by only one person (or two, in the case of a couple making a joint purchase). Consumers expect to receive some benefit from their purchase, but typically don’t weigh the financial risks as heavily as businesses do.

Effective business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers know this, and develop campaigns that connect with the consumer mindset. Through advertising, direct and Internet marketing, storefronts, and discount offers, the B2C marketer works to convert shoppers to buyers as efficiently as possible.

Those selling consumer-based products typically engage in some form of B2C marketing. Some examples include:

B2C Marketing Considerations

  • Short sales cycles—days or even minutes, for those impulse buys
  • Brand is built through advertising and referrals
  • Customer service is core to sales
  • Social media gives greater access to customers, opening up huge opportunities for advertising, customer service, and building of customer loyalty
  • Computer and gadget companies often market new products, providing tools to make your life more fun and efficient, solving problems you didn’t even know you had.
  • Software and game companies use, among other strategies, conventions (such as Electronic Entertainment Expo, aka E3) to get the word out. (See also In-Game Marketing)
  • Restaurants will market their food, but also their reputation and atmosphere.
  • Clothing, jewelry, and make-up companies do much of their marketing through the concept of “fashion”—which can be changed whenever there’s a new product to sell.
  • Drug companies in the United States run advertisements about new products, urging you to “ask your doctor if [Fixitol] is right for you.” (In some other countries, it is illegal to market drugs directly to the consumer; in those places, companies market to the doctors.)
  • Car companies continue to be creative with their B2C campaigns, such as doing road trips building towers of gasoline cans to show how much fuel you save with their high MPG cars.
  • Food companies selling in grocery stores market not only through advertising, but through product packaging and in-store displays.

For what kind of consumer is B2C marketing effective?

Since “consumers” refers to all individual buyers of products and services, and no product is likely to appeal to every single consumer, B2C marketers break consumers down into target segments— for example, 18-25 year-old single males. The goal is to match the marketing message with the target consumer segment, since different consumer segments will respond differently to various marketing methods. (See also Targeting Marketing)

B2C marketing is most effective with customers who have already had a positive experience with the product or company. Happy customers are more likely to buy more and to refer the product to their friends. Repeat business is the key to a successful, growing business, and B2C marketing practices work to build customer loyalty. (See also Remarketing)

How is an effective B2C marketing campaign developed?

B2C marketing campaigns begin with comprehensive market research. Companies must know who their customers are, what they want, and the messages they respond to. Market research enable companies to craft effective messages and select campaign elements that engage specific audiences.

Crucial Elements of B2C Marketing

  • Know your audience
  • Own your brand
  • Take advantage of user-generated content online
  • Take action to respond to negative feedback
  • Build brand loyalty

In today’s age of Internet interconnectivity, an audience is likely to spend a significant amount of time online. Because of this, some of the rules for developing an effective B2C campaign have changed. A winning B2C campaign should take the Internet into account, using tools such as company websites, affiliate programs, quick response (QR) codes, and social media.

Social media is a common method of reaching large audiences and connecting with them on a more personal level (See also Facebook Marketing). For example, if a satisfied customer “likes” a page on Facebook, all of their online relationships will see that. Building a fan website therefore automatically garners a company adverstising. Additionally, it allows them to see what customers are saying about their products, giving them more ideas for new campaigns.

Finally, companies also develop customer loyalty programs through their social media initiatives, offering special discounts to customers who have bought from the company before, are following them online, or have commented on their site. This can motivate additional repeat business—a key to any long-term business success.(See also Real-Time Marketing)

What career titles work with B2C marketing strategies?

Marketing Managers

Marketing Managers oversee and coordinate various B2C campaigns, directing their teams in research, reporting, and communications.

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
  • Internet Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $92,000
  • Market Research Analyst
    Median annual pay: $60,570

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

  • identify target segments of a consumer market for B2C marketing purposes
  • identify trends, including how and why consumer buying patterns change in a given target segment
  • initiate and direct consumer research, and advise their clients on B2C strategy based upon their findings
  • keep their company informed about the various consumer segments that make up the business’ core, new, and potential customers
  • interact with product-development teams over new products that might appeal to one of more of the identified B2C targets
Education and Skills

Most marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree, often in marketing, advertising, or business management. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in marketing, market research, statistics, psychology, and consumer behavior. Additionally, future marketing managers pursue and complete an internship while in school; and often have enjoyed substantial experience in their industry, in marketing, advertising, special promotions, public relations, and/or sales.

Internet Marketing Manager

Internet Marketing Manager direct B2C campaigns that rely on internet communication.

What do they do?
  • identify patterns of online consumer traffic, and track trends and changes in online commerce
  • promote the use of social media for optimum interaction with the target B2C segment
  • track how consumers are responding to the company website and internet communications
  • obtain feedback about B2C campaigns via social media and other online sources, and recommend changes based upon consumers’ responses
  • provide regular feedback to the company’s website development team, on how to make the website more appealing to the company’s target segments
Education and Skills

Internet marketing managers should have at least a bachelor’s degree (often in marketing, advertising, or business management) and substantial experience in online commerce (including advertising and sales). They should be familiar with how to leverage social networking sites. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in marketing, market research, statistics, consumer behavior, and internet law.

Market Research Analysts

Market Research Analysts are responsible for defining and learning about the target consumer segment in a B2C campaign.

What do they do?
  • use a variety of methods (interviews, questionnaires, online data collection, etc.) to discover what consumers in the target segment think about and want from the business
  • gather data about how consumers are responding to a company’s online presence, social-media pages, and B2C communications
  • analyze consumer data, employing statistical methods and software
  • distill and communicate findings to their organization about the B2C target segment, using charts, graphs, and other means
  • forecast future trends, needs, and opportunities in each consumer segment, based upon regularly collected data
Education and Skills

Market research analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in market research or another related field; many jobs also require a master’s degree, particularly in leadership or for positions that engage in more technical research. Analysts usually complete an internship while in school, and may gain additional experience in jobs which require collecting and analyzing data and writing reports.

How can a marketing school help you in this field?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

B2C marketing is about reaching consumers with an attractive message—first to create an interest, and then to translate that interest into a sale. To accomplish these goals, marketers must first gain a number of different skills in college marketing programs.

The first step in effective B2C marketing is developing an understanding of the consumer, an understanding built through market research practices. A marketing education program will train you in the methods of research, data collection, and statistical analysis, so that you can effectively acquire a picture of the needs, preferences, and habits of a consumer segment.

To equip you with messaging skills, communications courses are heavily emphasized in most marketing programs. You’ll acquire and develop a variety of presentation skills, learning how to adjust your communication methods for your audiences.

Finally, computer and technology courses will help you to understand how to leverage social media. As most information in the Web 2.0 environment is added by end users, your program will prepare you to deal with this new and still-developing market environment. You’ll be equipped to meet consumers where they’re at—and where they’re at is online.

To learn more about how a marketing program can help you in your future career, request information from schools with degrees in marketing.