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Features of marketing research of B2B markets

The B2B market is not like working with the end consumer, so you need to analyze it with other tools. Let's analyze what is the difference with B2C, what features should be taken into account and how it will affect marketing.

The differences between B2B (from business to business) and B2C (from business to client) spheres have not been so pronounced in recent years: online work makes marketing tools more universal, geographic features lose their importance. The general trend in the market is reduced to the concept of H2H - from person to person. This is logical: even if a product or service is intended for companies, the purchase decision is still made by a person. But B2B has certain specifics that need to be taken into account when conducting market research.

The difference in B2B and B2C market research

The end consumer makes a purchase decision based on very different reasons: from the location of the store to a spontaneous reaction to an advertising slogan. When analyzing B2C, it is important to establish these reasons, understand the arguments and expectations of the consumer. In business circles, the motivation is usually more rational: the buyer is better versed in the features of the product, he is inclined to calculate the benefits of his company. Therefore, these two areas need to be considered differently.

B2C is characterized by:

  • focus on the end customer
  • relatively easy to find target audience for study
  • use many different methods, sometimes at the same time
  • financially reward respondents for participating in surveys
  • conduct research without deep immersion in the technical features of the business

For B2B is typical:

  • engage an expert familiar with the specifics of the business
  • look for alternatives to financial incentives for respondents
  • get acquainted with technical processes, delve into the details of production
  • apply competitive, market and strategic analysis
  • collect information about respondents before starting the main study - for example, an expert interview

Some types of marketing research (MI) are applicable in both areas: interviews, competitive analysis, focus groups, work with statistics. Others can only be used in B2C: quantitative methods are ineffective for the business community. A mystery shopper or an accompanied purchase is also not suitable for exploring the business environment.

Features of B2B market research

To work with B2B, you need to have a good understanding of the technical side of production, so it is logical to conduct research in conjunction. For example, a specialist of the required profile on the part of the customer and an experienced marketer. Or a marketing agency with experience in analyzing similar segments and an outside consultant. It is worth combining desk and field MI: without the first, it is difficult to prepare well for the second.

At least in part, B2B research will build on an expert survey. You can communicate with him in different formats: in-depth or expert interviews, surveys, focus groups. Experts can be technical specialists, employees of service centers, scientists and researchers, representatives of industry associations, officials involved in industry regulation.

The main difficulty of MI in the business environment is to find and motivate experts. Usually, a limited number of specialists are suitable for the purposes of the study, they can be located in different, sometimes hard-to-reach places. Such people are not easy to convince to spend their time talking about the confidential features of their work.

If it is possible to achieve a conversation, it must be correctly conducted and interpreted. For example, as part of the study of aircraft components, you need to communicate with an aircraft designer, engineer, technician, and pilot. All of them work in different companies, are in different regions and are not particularly interested in a conversation. To conduct the entire interview, you will need not just a marketer, but rather an experienced negotiator who can quickly understand the technical details and draw the right conclusions.

B2B market segments

The B2B market is segmented according to the following parameters:

  • Territory: The country, region, or city in which the company operates. They also take into account the economic, social and other features of the location
  • Industry: extraction, production, provision of services. The industry is narrowed down to the group that is relevant to the study
  • Market type: industrial, public procurement, commercial, institutional (trade with government agencies), export
  • Company size: large, medium and small business

Each segment consists of groups and subgroups, which are distinguished according to criteria important for MI:

  • number and qualification of personnel
  • annual sales
  • who makes the purchasing decision, how many professionals have the right to vote
  • range of goods or services
  • business automation level
  • what factors influence the decision: delivery, communication speed, discount system
  • structure of relationships with customers, buyers, retailers and suppliers

Marketing in B2B

B2B market research usually follows one or more of the following areas:

  • study of the consumer and demand;
  • competitor research;
  • identification of technological trends and promising areas of production;
  • justification of investment projects;
  • drawing up business plans;
  • scientific, technical and marketing analysis of foreign experience;
  • import substitution of foreign products.

Most often, desk research, expert and in-depth interviews, as well as a specific form of focus groups - delphi are used to analyze the business environment. For such a group, experts are gathered and invited to make forecasts regarding the development of the market as a whole or its individual segments.

In-depth interviews are conducted with business owners and decision makers. Expert - with professionals who are able to evaluate the technical qualities of the product.

Theoretically, you can analyze the business market yourself. First, it is worth evaluating the labor costs and qualifications of the available staff. In addition to technical knowledge, MI requires specific training, negotiation skills, experience in organizing and conducting interviews. If you are not sure that the company has all the necessary specialists and resources at its disposal, it is better to order a study by professionals.