B2B Marketing Research: What You Need to Know

Check out this guide to B2B marketing research : what you need to know and learn what it is about, why it is so powerful and how to get started.

B2B Marketing Research: What You Need to Know
B2B Marketing Research: What You Need to Know

What is B2B Marketing Research?

In a business-to-business (B2B) transaction, a company sells a product or service to another company.

Behind every good consumer product is a string of B2B transactions, including many B2B products and services. Let's take the example of a chocolate bar:

Companies that supply raw materials and ingredients to chocolate bar makers are B2B organizations
Chocolate bars can be manufactured in a 'co-packing facility' rather than a factory operated by the owner of the brand. This co-packing facility is a B2B organization
The brand owner can get advice from professional service organizations such as marketing agencies. They are all B2B organizations
The owner of the brand can sell to businesses as well as consumers. So they can themselves be a B2B organization
In short, B2B is big.

And the B2B market is different from the consumer markets in many ways.

First, there are important differences in terms of who is being sold:

  • In B2B, there are very few customers to sell
  • The difference between the highest-spending and least-paid customers is greater
  • Decision-making units are large
  • Decision-making units are also more volatile as people transfer roles / companies
  • Decision-makers are difficult to judge and find

Second, there are differences in terms of what is being sold and where.

  • Spending on products is higher in B2B markets
  • Products are more customized and complex
  • Products are likely to be sold through multiple distribution channels

Third, there are differences in how B2B shopping is done:

  • The journey to buy B2B is long because it has more stages and stakeholders
  • Buyers need more information during the purchase process
  • B2B purchase is less (slightly) emotionally

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing research is the practice of exploring the  attitudes,motivations and behaviors of B2B buyers. This knowledge is used to inform sales and marketing strategies for B2B organizations.

Typically, the research process consists of two parts: data collection and analysis.

Let's start with data collection. There are two broad approaches to collecting your data:

1. Qualitative. In this approach, researchers talk directly to people to gather their experiences and opinions about other aspects of your business, product, or market. Because it involves live conversation, this type of research takes much time and effort and can be difficult to analyze. On the plus side, qualitative research provides unmatched depth and allows you to ask open-ended questions and pursue new lines of inquiry. Phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and focus groups are the most common ways businesses conduct qualitative research.
2. Quantitative. If qualitative research allows you to dive deeper into a relatively small sample, then quantitative research derives power from its volume. Using a standardized survey questionnaire, the researcher asks everyone the same type of question (although the literal question, in which an answer determines what the question comes from, is also an option). Although open-ended questions are certainly possible in quantitative research, they are used less frequently so that it is easier to analyze large amounts of data. The more rigorous structure of quantitative research lends itself to a wide variety of formats, including online, mail, and telephone surveys.

Which is better, qualitative or quantitative research? In fact, there is no right or wrong answer. Each serves a different purpose. At a very simple level, quantitative research is useful for understanding what is happening in the market, whereas qualitative research is good at finding why.

Qualitative research provides a great deal of flexibility, and it provides a rich body of information. Quantitative research is highly structured, which makes it easy to identify patterns and draw broad conclusions from the data. Due to the amount of labor and cost involved in conducting qualitative marketing research, it often addresses a small sample - sacrificing some statistical confidence to dive deeper into topics.

Why B2B market research is important?

B2B companies require strong market research because it tells them who their customers are, and why they buy their products. It also helps them to find a matrix such as the cost of acquisition of a customer, and it gives a clear understanding of what the market wants in a product or service. B2B market research helps companies to get valuable information about:
  • Economic change
  • The contestants
  • Current market trend
  • New opportunities
  • customer insights
B2B market research helps businesses identify new growth opportunities and threats in good time. It can also help companies uncover their specific selling propositions (USPs). Companies think of their competitive advantage and create advantages that competitors cannot easily replicate.
B2B market research companies often test products, advertisements, services, and market opportunities for the following results:
  • Desirability: A product or service must be desirable, or the market will not create demand for it.
  • Specification: The customer should be able to tell the product offering of the company in addition to other players in the market
  • Defensiveness: B2B market research companies need to be able to prevent or deter competitors from replicating strategic advantage.
The conclusion

Conducting marketing research can make your B2B company more self-aware, engaging with market attitudes and better prepared for change. If you have not done this kind of research before, do not worry. A qualified research partner can handle heavy lifting and provide a more nuanced interpretation of the results - results that you should be able to act on immediately.

Marketing research is a powerful and often underdeveloped tool. Are you wondering how to rebuild your company's momentum, what is going on in the marketplace, why your top competitor is winning all the business or how you can maintain your competitive edge, the answers are out. All you need is willpower and a way to get them out.

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