Lately, I’ve been mulling over the introduction of new products and creating demand in the consumer vs. business to business marketplaces. The differences, at the core, are stark.
In the consumer marketplace, demand is created based on psychology. A sense of need is developed. Are you the last person to have the latest, most advanced, cutting edge technological gadget? Does your car park for you, protect you from falling asleep at the wheel, entertain your children while you drive? And so on.
There is an anthropological concept called “relative deprivation.” Relative deprivation means that you thought you were well-off and satisfied with your life and “stuff” until you saw someone else with better stuff. Now you feel deprived.
Relative deprivation is the motivating factor behind new product consumer marketing.
The same concept, incidentally, works in reverse with the “poor you” concept of consumer medical marketing. Think of all the ads you see on TV and in magazines hyping (or creating) previously little known ailments for you to worry about. How many people do you know who worried about “fibromyalgia,” “rosacea,” “low T,” or (my favorite) “restless leg syndrome”?
The marketing plays to the hypochondriac in all of us. Your aches and pains, your stress, your being exhausted and feeling over-burdened are not your fault. You have a disease. And we have a cure.
So now you are relatively deprived because you don’t feel the way you did when you were 18.
Interestingly, business to business new product marketing largely avoids the psychological. It is premised on rationality. And, by and large, it does not look to create demand. It looks to fill it.
B2B marketing focuses on “competitive advantage” and “value propositions” as products and services are positioned to solve recognized and acknowledged problems and issues. There is no attempt to stimulate an impulse buy.
Think of how we market technology in the B2B environment. Marketers and product development people go to great pains to explain the technology behind their solutions and why it is better than anyone else’s (competitive advantage). When was the last time you heard someone explain how the IPad or its app’s work?
In business to business marketing, we work on the premise that buy decisions are thoughtful, methodical, and have a long sales cycle. We search for a need that the marketplace is decrying and rush to fill it or position our products as filling it. Logically, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Yet the people whom we try to engage on an intellectual level in business marketing are the same people we are trying to engage on an emotional level as consumers.
So, is the marketplace schizophrenic? Or are we schizophrenic in how we approach it?