Blog Post

B2B? B2C? Both terms need to be retired.

Apr 4, 2017


We’ve all heard more than enough about the consumerization of B2B.

John Becher from SAP said it best when he was encouraging his team to get to know their business customers as individuals and he reminded them that, “Big glass buildings do not buy products. People do.”

It’s a great thought. Yet, consumer brands have arguably taken more cues from business advertising than the other way around. And it’s time for both terms to retire to Florida and play shuffleboard full time.

Afterall, there is no distinction between a person “at work” and a person “at home.” They’re always “at both.” We can’t mange to put our phones down at the dinner table. Or stay off Instagram at the conference room table. Our social feeds are full of work-people looking at pictures of our kids. And our work world is forever co-mingling with our personal world.

But the purchase process is the same no matter how long the purchase funnel is.

People need awareness. People want brand value. People read information and content about a category and products. People consult friends and colleagues. And ultimately, people make emotional decisions based on rational input because that’s the way people are.

Humans are just an emotional bundle of baggage no matter their physical location. They’re distracted and insecure and in need of praise and the feeling that they made the right decision whether their boss is judging them or their spouse is judging them.

SAP, IBM, GE and HP have done some of the world’s best advertising. Is it business to business?

Apple, Nike, AT&T and VW have done some of the world’s best advertising. Is consumer advertising?

Marty Homlish, EVP and chief customer experience officer at HP sums it all up this way: In today’s networked world, terms like B2B and B2C are no longer relevant—it is all about B2C. Whether you are a CEO or a CPA, you can be a consumer anywhere and at anytime. You can window shop, read and write reviews, bargain hunt, or bespoke until you drop. And when you go back to being a CEO or CPA, you want the same always-on, simple experience in your “B2B” world since there is no longer a distinction between what hat you are wearing.”


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