Target Markets: B2C Explained

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Target Markets: B2C Explained

This post if Part 2 of 3: Online Target Markets

  1. B2B
  2. B2C
  3. In-Plant

B2C = Business to consumer

Business to consumer in its most generic form describes transactions between businesses and end customers. In the print industry, consumer products have been widening with the advent of photo products.

Business to consumer might not be that different for you in the offline world, the intended use of the printed product (personal or business related) doesn’t change your manufacturing much. In the online world going direct to consumers changes a lot about the products you offer and the ecommerce transaction you participate in.

Lets define B2C here as not just by the intended use of the products, but for the online world, the B2C target market is targeting a consumer base that you don’t know with “retail” products and pricing. B2C online assumes your targeting any consumer that finds your site, so you are engaging in transactions with people you don’t know. This is probably the biggest difference between B2B and B2C, in B2B you typically know the customer and have established pricing and payment terms. In B2C the pricing is retail and the payment method is credit card or some other form of automated online payment (e.g. PayPal).

For the most overused example, take business cards. A B2B business card product online is one you’ve setup in coordination with the company to control their brand while allowing individual users to enter their personalized data. A B2C business card is more of a generic template that the customer creates their brand online, by either choosing from pre-made templates or designing their own in the browser – what I call “design online”.

Because B2C is a target market of people you don’t know, you have to have a strategy for “getting found” on the web. The offline version of this would be a yellow pages ad, billboard, newspaper advertising, retail walk up, etc… The online version of this starts at the search box in Google, Bing, or Yahoo, “search” is the new yellow pages without the easy to understand alphabetical listings.

Probably the most misunderstood aspect of B2C targeting on the web is getting found and what it takes to match your products and services with the search terms your target customers would use so you show up as high as possible in the search results. There is an entire industry built around this objective – SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There is a multi billion dollar industry built on selling search relevant advertising and another industry SEM (Search Engine Marketing) to help you get the most out of your paid search campaigns.

Web to print software that supports the B2C target market must include the following features:

  1. SEO Optimization
    Getting found is #1 priority
  2. Self Registration
    Brilliantly easy
    Allows for anonymous shopping (shop first, register when you buy)
  3. Real eCommerce
    Credit cards
    Accurate tax calculation
    Accurate shipping calculation
  4. Shopping Environment
    Easy to shop for different products / categories
    Promotions / Features Products


  1. Steven Schnoll on August 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    This is terrific info but who in the traditional print world understandsthis offering. If we are going to get printers excited that their future does not lie in print alone we have to make it very simple for them. Get them to start with easy steps like doing a self promotion using their own internal data found in a MIS system or accounting software package. Profile the customers they want to reach with the services that will resonate with the customer. If they can’t do this fundamental action they will never be able to all the steps you outline.

  2. Heath on August 26, 2010 at 10:36 am

    This post does a really nice job of identifying core characteristics of the B2C segment.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the following:

    Do you believe that much of the B2C market is largely in the SMB (Small Medium Business) category? Or true individual consumers? Are they they same thing?

  3. Jennifer Matt on August 26, 2010 at 11:38 am


    Good point. Education sometimes teaches you that you should pick a different path. Sometimes finding out what you don’t know is more important than learning new things.

    I’ve personally witnessed a lot of printers think and act on the “if you build it they will come” dream of B2C. Explaining how the online world is different and the investment / expertise that is required is one way to prevent others from making the same mistakes.


  4. Jennifer Matt on August 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Great question. Up to this point the B2C market for print has been dominated by those organizations reaching the “long tail” of SMB via the web (which the web is uniquely suited to do). But on the other side of the coin is the explosion or massive transition from file to digital printing of photos and photo products. This is clearly a more true B2C play, your wife, your grandma, your sister (yes its mostly women in this market) buy individual photo products. Companies like Shutterfly have captured the long tail of consumers looking for a unique photo book in typically quantities of (1).

    The B2C reach on the web for print products and services is just starting, we begin with products we know (business cards) but I think we will see totally new niche products and services come out of this access to the long tail. I heard someone talk about a print product that folded into a gift box for wedding shower gifts – this is an example of creating a brand new print product and having the ability to launch it nationally because the digital infrastructure is essentially free to ride on now (see my article if you’re not sure what I mean by that) –

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