July 2015 | R Mukundan

A new equation begins to bloom

Beyond B2B and B2C, product content and marketing strategies are being tailored to fit the human-to-human engagement, says R Mukundan

In the fast-changing marketplace of our age, the lines between market segments are increasingly getting blurred. The B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) customers of today share some common ground: both are informed and sophisticated, with a strong set of expectations from the enterprises with which they do business. These customers paint their impression of a brand on the basis of the experience that the brand provides in relation to their expectations. That and the promise of the brand. An experience that exceeds the customer’s expectations is the critical factor in securing customer satisfaction. 

B2C companies have realised — in no small measure due to the instantaneous nature of modern media and the buzz around e-commerce businesses — that increasing customer satisfaction through good analytics and insights drives measurable revenue increases. Meanwhile, a single B2B relationship is often worth millions of dollars, and B2B companies can garner extraordinary value by optimising customer experiences. This is, contrary to popular view, much like it happens in the B2C space.

At Tata Chemicals we have developed a strong customer-centric culture across the organisation. We have done this by continuously concentrating on developing an understanding of the distinct needs of our customers. It is a culture that enables us to accomplish our customer promise in line with our mission statement and our long-term strategy.  

While the lines might be blurring, there still remain distinctions that separate B2B and B2C buyers, who are in two dissimilar places emotionally. Therefore, while the marketing tactics adopted to cater to any given segment of buyers may be merging, the ‘content’ at the heart of these tactics is significantly different.

B2B buyers work hard to streamline the buying process so as to save time and money. A B2B purchase is based on, it can be assumed, sound reasoning and lower personal risk, while a B2C purchase is driven by emotion and the value-for-money proposition. Selling a product to a B2B client involves highlighting the logic and features of the product or service, and understanding the organisational need of the buyer to save time, money and resources. In sharp contrast, a B2C purchase means focusing on the benefits of the product.

 The bottom line is that purchases in both the B2B and B2C segments boil down to the buyers’ emotional perspective about the product. What one needs to remember, however, is that businesses are run by humans and, therefore, communications should not be complicated. And a new trend is coming to the fore, paving a fine path between B2B and B2C: the H2H, or human to human, engagement.

This is a dynamic where buyers are seen as human beings with particular needs. Product content and marketing strategies will necessarily have to be designed to cater to such needs.

R Mukundan is the managing director of Tata Chemicals

This is part of the cover story about the customer-centricity culture of the Tata group featured in the July 2015 issue of Tata Review:
Chairman's message on customer centricity at Tata
Read all the articles, and more, in Tata Review
Harish Bhat: It's in the culture
Dr Ralf Speth: Designed to delight
Bhaskar Bhat: In the centre of the circle
Jaguar Land Rover: Who's at the wheel?
Titan Company: Substance in the style
Tata Motors: In for the long drive
Tata Motors: A healthy obsession
Tata Global Beverages: The connection is tasty
Tata Chemicals: Bridges are for building
Tata Power: Generating affection, too
Tata Communications: A telecom tune to hum
Rallis: Reaping the good wind
Tata Sky: The signals are clear
Jusco: An operation apart
Tata Steel: Bonds made of steel