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B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions: What is the difference

An article explaining B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions and the difference between these terms

GrapeData
Nov 16, 2022
B2B market research
B2C market research

An introduction to B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions 

B2B and B2C surveys are powerful tools in the realm of market research. Every business in need of wanting a new product or service will at some point conduct these types of surveys. These survey questions provide an idea of things to ask to determine whether a particular business idea is viable. As the name suggests, B2C survey questions tend to focus on end consumers of a product or a service. Whereas, B2B survey questions target decision-makers such as employees, or even higher-level executives working in a company.  Thus, B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions are likely to differ. 

Let’s understand these terms with the help of an example. ABC Company wants to run a survey targeting consumers of a particular shampoo in the United States. The goal of the survey is to determine the breakdown of survey respondents by age, gender, and city. In this case, the company would be running a B2C survey. On the other hand, if the company wants to target employees or decision-makers who work in the development of these shampoos, then it would run a b2c survey. 

To communicate with B2C and B2B customers, researchers often have various tools and methods at their disposal. These can include trade conferences, industry shows, experts, and other data aggregators. Since the B2B sector is so fundamentally different from B2C, researchers must understand these in order to develop effective marketing approaches. This is also applicable when thinking about B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions. 

B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions: How do they differ

The answer to the above question lies in understanding the nuances of the B2B and B2C space. In the next section, we’ll talk about 6 different criteria that distinguish B2B and B2C markets. By gaining an understanding of these criteria, researchers will be able to develop questions that suit their audiences. 

1. The complexity of Product and Channels 

B2B products tend to be far more complex than B2C ones. The reason behind this is that B2B products are often purchased as input that’s used in another product or service. Consequently, B2B buyers are concerned about quality control, raw material processing, or other such decisions in the buying journey. On the other hand, consumers are not likely to go through the same thought process while choosing shampoo for their daily needs. Additionally, the level of attention paid to product attributes such as price, value, and delivery also differs. For example, a consumer buying a shampoo will most probably look at the retail price and whether the product is in stock or not, whilst making his buying decision. Whereas, a B2B buyer is likely to negotiate on price and determine lead times or back orders while buying a component for the end- B2B product. 

Similarly, channel complexity also tends to vary between B2B and B2C markets. In B2C markets, we’ve seen growing use of the internet and e-commerce channels to sell and distribute products. In fact, GlobalData reports that the B2C e-commerce market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.7% during 2021-2026. This growth is in part attributable to the increase in the number of internet users worldwide, from 847 million in 2010 to 4.9 billion in 2021.  On the other hand, the B2B space is still dominated by complex delivery channels comprising manufacturers, brokers, and agents. 

Thus, if a market researcher is designing B2B and B2C survey questions that each focus on the above-mentioned customers, then it's a good idea to create different types of questions. For B2B customers, some questions can be:

  1. What is your job title? (multiple choice)
  2. How large is your company and who do you report to? (multiple choice) 
  3. What is the biggest challenge you face while negotiating with suppliers? (text entry field) 

If the target is a B2C customer, then questions can be of the following format:

  1. Where are you located? (multiple choice)  
  2. What are your top three considerations when choosing shampoo? (multiple choice) 
  3. Which of the following hair products have you used before (multiple choice) 

2. B2B vs B2C decision-makers 

B2B buyers are involved in purchase-decision making that has commercial implications. Each decision-maker in the buying journey is likely to have a different level of influence. Not only are B2B decision-makers harder to locate, but market researchers also must determine the level of influence that each B2B customer has in the buying decision. B2C decisions do not have a commercial intent, but rather a consumption one. Therefore, B2C sampling can afford to not be biassed. B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions must also reflect this sampling methodology. 

3. Price

B2C products tend to be consistent in pricing across the board be it at brick and mortar stores or online. B2B product prices often vary depending on geography, distribution channel, the influence of the customer, purchase history, and so on. Hence, B2B products tend to be less standardised in terms of pricing. Additionally, B2B pricing also depends upon external market factors such as the level of competition in the market or upcoming trends. B2B buyers also tend to think more about the lifetime value of the product than say for instance a customer buying detergent. They are more likely to pay a higher price if it can be proven that the product in question is durable and productive. Market researchers must take into account these pricing and buying behaviour differences when formulating B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions. 

For B2B buyers, questions can include elements of negotiation, value considerations, and competitive pricing. For instance, a B2B survey question could ask: ‘Which of the following is an accurate representation of a range of the pricing on your product’. Whereas, a scaled response question: ‘How likely are you to buy Shampoo X if it was priced at $15’ could be posed to B2C respondents. 

4. Marketing Methodology 

The end goal of marketing, which is to create lasting demand for products and services remains the same in both B2B and B2C markets. However, marketing approaches tend to differ in these two markets based on the psychological and behavioural buying decisions of consumers.  For instance, B2C customers tend to be driven by emotion or impulse when making a purchase, especially in the world of FMCG. On the other hand, B2B buyers evaluate a buying decision in a logical and systematic manner. B2B buyers keep in mind certain criteria such as interpersonal relationships, and perceived threats (e.g. fear of making the wrong decision).  Buyers in the B2B space also value the brands that convey trust, and integrity rather than those with, say, pleasing aesthetics or catchy advertising slogans. 

In addition, a recent Gartner study reports that 77% of B2B buyers stated that their recent buying journey was very complex. Lastly, B2B marketing still requires more in-person interaction than B2C. Customer service and sales teams in B2B have defined roles when it comes to communicating with B2B buyers. Additionally, in-person interactions are also cost-effective due to the small number of B2B buyers.

Thus, it’s important that B2C and B2B survey questions reflect these differences in marketing methodologies. One strategy to do this is to include relevant attributes in the survey questionnaires that reflect the kinds of marketing messages that these buyers typically see. Another way to account for these differences is to vary the kind of questions asked according to the buyer’s role or influence in the decision-making process. 

5. Applications of B2B and B2C market research 

The way that market research is applied in the context of B2C markets is very different from its B2B counterpart. For example, the goal of the company that is surviving shampoo consumers could be to identify a buyer person for launching its own line of shampoos. However, in the context of B2B markets, sometimes a new product can be launched with little or no background research. Often, it can be attributed to one user in the supply chain who requested the product in question. Thus, B2B survey questions demand that attention be paid to the level of knowledge that the respondent has. Whereas B2C survey questions can afford to assume that the respondent has no prior knowledge of the product. 

6. B2B and B2C sales cycles 

Although there are different ways to break down the B2B sales cycle, most commonly it can be divided into eight steps. The cycle typically starts with lead generation, then moves to the discovery phase which includes background research of the company’s website and LinkedIn. In the next phase, the generated leads are qualified i.e. their suitability is assessed. Qualification is then followed by pitching, after which the buyer seeks any clarification that they have. Then comes the close where pricing and other elements of a contract are negotiated, followed by follow-ups if deemed necessary. Thus, a B2B sales cycle is much lengthier than a B2C one where consumers make quicker decisions based on past product reviews or testimonials.

Accounting for these differences in the sales cycle involves gaining an in-depth understanding of each stage in the B2B and B2C sales cycle. 

Summing up B2B survey questions and B2C survey questions 

B2B and B2C survey questions differ fundamentally across different dimensions. Be it the sales cycle, the number of buyers, pricing, or marketing methodology, it’s clear to see how different the two markets are. To reflect these differences, it’s important to create your survey design carefully. We hope that this post has been useful if you’re thinking about running a B2C or a B2B survey. For further information, please drop us an email at sales@grape-data.com. We’d be happy to guide you through your survey project.