I've been in several meetings lately talking about our website and listened to people state, matter-of-factly, that we're a B2B (business to business) site - and how that is so much different than a B2C (business to consumer) site.
Every site is a consumer site. The person on the other end of the connection is still a person and they bring with them all the feelings and emotions and decision-making skills of a person. Sure, they might be bound by constraints or purchasing rules set forth by the organization they work for, however they're still a person and they purchase based on the same emotional responses that they use in their daily lives.
And, as the old saying goes; "people buy on emotion and justify with logic".
If one is seeking to influence the purchase of goods or services, then understanding emotions is necessary skill. I've been reading more and more (#6) about how attractive things work better and are easier to learn (Wash and polish your car: doesn't it drive better?)
But what makes a product (or website) "attractive" to a person?
- Contrast arises from obviously different attributes (colors, textures, line curvatures, surface change, etc.) that we can measure objectively with instruments such as light meters and rulers.
- Novelty arises from perceived differences between a real product and its stereotype, an imaginary (subjective) mental model that the product automatically brings to mind. The stereotype represents what the viewer expected the product to resemble. Stereotypes are not directly accessible and measurable in the same ways real products are; they cab be measured only with psychological instruments, such as semantic differential surveys that tap the viewers mindset.
- Objective Concinnity arises from similarities among shapes, colors, dimensions, textures, and other visual attributes. Like contrast, it can be measured objectively with instruments such as light meters and rulers.
- Subjective Concinnity arises from similarities among a product, its stereotype, and its ideal - another mental model that automatically springs to mind. Unlike the stereotype, which corresponds to what the viewer most expected, the ideal corresponds to what the viewer implicitly hoped the product would resemble.
Think about just the contrast of some of the products you find attractive - your cell phone, MP3 player, car, etc. The color of pink RAZR phone, for instance. The curves of an Audi TT or Porsche Boxster. The texture of a fine garment.
Back to main point... there are two main differences between B2C and B2B: First, the whole issue of access privileges - you need to know that the person you're giving access to should have it and continue to have it. Second, the person who is purchasing might not be the same person who is using the product. In some cases the decision to purchase was made by the person who will use it, however, consideration has to be given to the fact that the consumer and the user are not the same person (which is more than possible in B2C sites). There are a few other scenarios for number two, obviously, however, there comes a point where a person has to pick a product (or service).
So, what do you think? Am I missing something? Is there truly a difference between B2B and B2C? If so, what is it?