Micro-Influencer Marketing

Consumer-to-Consumer Marketing vs. B2C Marketing

Brands have used B2C marketing for ages to reach consumers, but consumer-to-consumer marketing takes a brand new approach. Here's how they compare.

Consumer-to-Consumer Marketing vs. B2C Marketing

Business-to-consumer marketing has allowed businesses to promote directly to consumers basically since the beginning of time, but as consumers lose trust in brands, the marketing tides are shifting. 

While many consumers view brands and marketing as untrustworthy, they do trust recommendations from other consumers. That’s the idea behind consumer-to-consumer marketing, the up-and-coming marketing model that relies on word-of-mouth product recommendations and user-generated content to boost brand trust, reach and awareness. 

So how exactly do B2C and C2C marketing differ? We’ll walk you through all of the ins and outs below.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Marketing

Business-to-consumer marketing, or B2C marketing, is a traditional marketing model in which brands and marketers promote products and services to consumers. It can take many different forms, from email marketing to paid ads, but it can be summed up as brands creating content in order to attract, engage and convert consumers into customers. 

B2C marketing tactics include: 

  • Traditional advertising (like billboards, radio, tv, print ads, etc)
  • Social media marketing & advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Online ads and retargeting ads 
  • Rewards programs
  • And more

With this approach, consumers learn about products and services from the brands themselves. 

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) Marketing

On the other hand, consumer-to-consumer marketing, or C2C marketing, involves consumers learning about products from each other, either directly or indirectly. It’s especially effective because consumers trust other consumers more than they trust brands: 92% put more stock in recommendations from other people rather than brand messaging, even when that person is a stranger.

This strategy takes a less interruptive approach, as consumers are more receptive to messages that come from consumers like them, who share their unique problems, interests and lifestyle. 

Consumer-to-consumer marketing tactics include:

The result is a more consumer-heavy messaging approach, versus a brand-heavy messaging approach, which leads to increased brand trust, social proof and increased effectiveness of the overall marketing mix. 

Here’s How Consumer-to-Consumer Marketing and B2C Marketing Compare: 

  • They’re both at the mercy of the buyer’s journey - No matter what marketing method you apply, the buyer is always the one in control. If they aren’t ready to make a purchase, they won’t. It takes an average of 7 touches for a conversion to happen. However, the quality of these touches can make a difference. For example, including UGC in Facebook ads has been shown to increase conversion rates by 300% compared to branded content alone, and 97% of consumers have said that reviews impact their purchase decisions

  • They can be used to achieve the same goals - Want to drive brand awareness, support a product launch, grow your TikTok following or attract new customers? Both B2C and C2C approaches will get you there. However, B2C marketers have to overcome obstacles like low brand trust, ad blocking, spam reports, limited time, limited energy, and more. Meanwhile, C2C marketing tactics have an easier time getting through, require limited to nearly zero resources from brands, and positively contribute to trust and social proof along the way. 

  • They can both be brand-initiated - While C2C marketing relies on consumers to create content, brands don’t have to wait for consumers to start recommending their products and services. They can take the first step and enlist their help. From finding and collaborating with content creators, to initiating product seeding or product sampling campaigns, to incentivizing customers to review their previous purchases, brands can take initiative to get the ball rolling.

  • Brands can save resources with C2C marketing - With consumers producing a considerable chunk of user-generated content, brands can save time, energy and money on content creation. In addition, content creators are usually spectacular at finding new, creative ways to share your product or service with their followers, giving you new angles to reach new audiences and also helping to spice up your UGC collection. Plus, since UGC is generally received as more trustworthy and valid than brand-created materials, you might even find you don’t have to work quite as hard to convert strangers to customers, saving more time and energy across the board.

  • They’re received differently - Consumers go out of their way to avoid brand messages; in fact, 74% find a way to turn off ads. Meanwhile, consumers are already looking to their friends, family, followers and favorite creators for product recommendations to make their lives easier. They want to hear first-hand experiences from consumers who have already used the products they’re considering before they feel confident buying. Eighty-one percent of consumers report brand trust as being a major factor in their purchasing decisions. By taking advantage of the inherent trust consumers give to their peers, C2C marketing can help your brand improve its reputation.

  • Reach happens organically - Rather than paying for impressions, when a consumer posts about a brand on their social media accounts, the brand is essentially borrowing that consumer’s audience and reach. This organic reach can prove super effective: 80% of consumers have purchased something after seeing it via an influencer. On top of that, rather than being interruptive, these posts are engaging. Seeing a consumer using a product and getting results right before their eyes is exciting and powerful – as evidenced in this viral TikTok example that sold out, and made famous, an eye cream from skincare brand Peter Thomas Roth

So, Which Should You Use?

For many consumer brands, consumer-to-consumer marketing is a must. This isn’t to say that B2C marketing should be avoided entirely; however, incorporating C2C marketing tactics into your overall marketing mix can make all of your marketing efforts more effective. 

Building brand trust is an unskippable step in your marketing funnel impacting every stage of the buyer’s journey, and having consumers recommend your product to each other rather than the messaging coming from you can increase trust exponentially. 

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Ready to give consumer-to-consumer marketing a go? Partnering with content creators to spread your brand’s message is a great place to start, and we can help you do just that, without adding more work to your plate. Give us a shout today to see how we can get creators posting about your brand and help up your consumer-to-consumer marketing game.

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