potso: I have noticed that in Nigeria efforts at advertising and branding tend to be applicable mainly to consumer businesses (products and services), as projection through these means seems played down for business-to-business (B2B) here. Is this appropriate and likely to impact unfavourably on activities in this sector or am I wrong in my perception? – Buba A.
You are not entirely wrong in your perception. At least, you are quite observant to have been able to make out that a large percentage of various shades of promotional messages Nigerians are being almost inundated with regularly, have been sponsored by businesses, aimed at consumers (that is business to consumer or B2C). Remember that, a consumer product or service is defined as that purchased for the ultimate satisfaction of personal and family needs.
The trend is not likely going to impart unfavourably on efforts at the Industrial Market – Businesses directing their activities at others to achieve corporate objectives. Another tag for Industrial Market is Business to Business or B2B. In this piece, I will justify promotional efforts (e.g. advertising and branding) being overwhelmingly for B2C and not B2B, creating an impression that the latter is fast becoming obsolete in Nigeria.
Industrial marketing or business to business marketing (that is, the marketing of goods and services by one business to another), just like for consumer product marketing, relies on basic market concepts and decisions. Leha ho le joalo, these are applied in various ways that echo the nature of industrial markets and products. B2B comprise a set of activities directed towards facilitating and expediting exchanges involving industrial markets and industrial products (or services). Industrial market is that market made up of individuals, groups or organisations that purchase specific kinds of products for resale, for direct use in producing other products, or for use in day-to-day operation. It is also called organisational market.
Industrial product is any product to be used directly or indirectly for the production of other products or to be used in the operation of an organisation (e.g. raw materials, equipment of all kinds; and any other product which you may perceive as being for direct consumption, but in this case deployed not for its consumption but to facilitate the production of something else). On another hand, industrial service (still B2B) is comprised of any intangible product that an organisation uses in its operations (e.g. marketing services; financial products, legal services, jj).
I know we are all being bombarded with all sorts of promotion activities, especially advertising and sales promotion related efforts, using various media of mass communication as platform. In spite of the extent of media deployment, these are most times directed at final consumers, as B2B efforts in this regard (in your words) ‘seem played down’. Just note that this trend is not unusual, as I urge you to bear in mind that the combination of promotional efforts applied in B2B marketing mixes generally differ greatly from those for consumer products (B2C), especially for Convenience Products (i.e. products purchased with a minimum of time and efforts, such as battery, recharge cards, sugar, bottled water, detergent, mobile phone, milk, tea, jj, bought at that nearby retail outlet).
The difference (between your bombardment with consumer products/services promotion and why related efforts for B2B seem low keyed) is evident in the emphasis on various promotional mixes components and the related marketing activities, as applicable to B2B. Generally, personal selling occupies centre stage in the entire marketing process here, likamano tsa sechaba (PR) comprises the major inclination for promotion.
Advertising features sparingly in industrial marketing, and often applied when the strategy, ka mohlala, takes the form of creating awareness through programme sponsorship (as product is mentioned in a broadcast, or its name appearing on backdrop of a TV programme, conference venue; or even base of a press display advertisement); and PR/advertising (an American connotation) exemplified by its producers stand or opinion on an issue being advertised, or its annual report as press advertisement.
Ka mantsoe a mang, B2B is mainly one-to-one in nature, as it is relatively easy for the seller to identify a prospective customer and build a face-to-face relationship. The nature of B2B is such that there is so much reliance on personal selling efforts, rather than mass communication approach to promotion, which is often applied to B2C. E boetse e, due to the likelihood of industrial sellers (B2B sellers) having fewer customers, personal contact becomes more flexible, making for reliance of the sales person. Technical features (often encountered and their complexities) in B2B products make for easier explanation through more personal means rather than non-personal forms of promotion.
Input in advertising and branding (which I will attend to later in this piece) may appear to be ‘sidelined’ to you presently, when so much about so-called Fast Moving Consumer Goods or FMCG seems to be in the forefront in the clarion call for consumer patronage. This has not in any way rendered B2B irrelevant, as what this entails (in the area of promotion or awareness creation) does not call for the allure which various communication media tend to be feeding us with.
Personal selling efforts, highly relevant for B2B promotion, often make for high degree of industrial purchases. Highly professional and trained people in buying processes are required for this. With such, two or three decision makers must approve a purchase plan. Often the buying or selling process is complex, and includes many stages (ka mohlala, request for proposal, request for tender, selection process, awarding of tender, contract negotiations, and signing of final contract). Ka mantsoe a mang, industrial purchases must be suited to the related jobs and available where and when required.
This situation demands industrial (B2B) buyers requiring reinforcement and personal assurances from the sales personnel. Ka mohlala, how much of media blitz is needed to sustain the sale of a passenger aircraft? Purchases in such situation are consummated only through the activities of the sales person, and not what obtains for B2C. (E tla ntšetsoa pele)
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