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B2B vs. B2C Research Methods

Understanding consumers is, or at least should be, the central goal of every business. Whether it be qualitatively or quantitatively done, tuning into customer thoughts and sentiments is at the core of market research.

This applies to both B2B and B2C research. However, the how-to-dos of B2B and B2C are often very different, and it is imperative those differences are understood and accounted for when undergoing a research project in order to achieve the most meaningful and applicable results.

Here are some of the key differences in B2B vs. B2C research that will help you select the most powerful route for your objectives.


In both B2B and B2C research, the target audiences are selected for the common reason of gaining a deeper understanding of their opinions, purchasing processes, impacting factors, needs, etc. Between these two types of research, the most striking difference is the sample size and acquisition.


  • In B2C research, the goal is to have a large enough sample of the customer base to be statistically reflective of the entire customer base (within a given margin of certainty). Depending on the parameters – like geography, for example – the ideal sample size can range up to several thousand respondents.

  • Identifying and engaging a B2C target audience is much easier than B2B. There is a clear and easier-to-reach qualifier of being a customer, and only 1 purchaser with a fairly simple purchasing process to account for.


  • Selecting the sample for B2B research is more complicated. There are usually multiple people within a decision-making team to account for, and are often executives or high-level professionals in the company who are not as easy to reach as a typical B2C customer.

  • The pool is smaller, meaning the sample size will be smaller. There are, for example, only so many decision-makers at companies purchasing a CRM platform.

Research Methods

These two different audiences will respond differently to certain research methods. B2C customers are more accessible and tend to have higher response rates, whereas B2B customers require more specialized engagement to achieve the desired response rate. The way the research is conducted will need to be tailored to the tactics that are most effective for each.


  • For B2C research, quantitative studies are most common, and can usually be conducted online making for a faster turnaround. Some qualitative studies like focus groups are also effective for B2C, either on their own or as a supplement to a quantitative study.

  • Emails, social media, texts, and most digital vehicles perform best with B2C audiences. Phone surveys are also a suitable choice, especially when the audience is older.


  • B2B customers are often executives or high-level professionals who may not have the luxury of time to spend taking a survey. Their inboxes are often flooded with marketing emails and they might have less time to scroll through social media.

  • The best way to get in touch with this type of customer is through someone they already know. An introductory email from their vendor’s point of contact mentioning the survey and the researcher and when they will be reaching out – or, even better, scheduling a time for the interview – is a great tactic to boost response rates.

  • Focus groups are not as effective with B2B because there is a likelihood that a competitor or peer will be in the same group. Short one-on-one interviews are the better route to take, either on a virtual meeting or a phone call.

  • Interviewers need to be skilled at engaging very time-pressed and senior individuals and eliciting detailed information, often on specialist topics. The interviewer should be knowledgeable enough on those topics to navigate discussion and get the desired information from the respondent.


An often-overlooked aspect of research, incentives are crucial to achieving the desired sample size – people are more willing to share their opinions when there is a tangible reward. The key here is knowing what will incentivize a B2C audience and a B2B audience.


  • Fortunately, incentives for B2C customers are not too complex. Coupons, gift cards, and discounts are almost always appealing to this group. Leading with the opportunity to receive a reward will boost response rates.


  • For higher-up professionals, incentives can be expensive in order to be seen as worth their time. Personal monetary rewards are less surefire to this (typically) more affluent group, requiring some creativity with incentives. A donation to their favorite charity or a discount on the product/service you provide them is more effective with these respondents.

A research partner that understands the nuances and best practices of different research for different audiences is necessary to achieve your objectives – We would love to be that strategic research partner to you. Contact us for a free consultation and explore how we can elevate your world with research that matters.

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