User Research: B2C vs. B2B

I've worked on both B2C and B2C products; the main B2C product being Stairway, and one of the products that I'm working on at the moment being a marketplace (one side of which is B2B), as well as all of my consulting roles being B2B.

The advice that I've heard most often is that user research is a vital part of the product process; but between B2C and B2B, I've found a huge difference in the value of user research.

In B2C (and in particular with Stairway, given that we were focused on secondary students), we were able to learn a lot about the problem, but that gave absolutely no insight into the direction we should take with the product. If anything, it gave the potential to go down the wrong path, with many users thinking they knew what they wanted, while suggesting features that would not solve any of the problems they'd previously mentioned.

Building recently for B2B customers has been significantly different - if they say they would value a feature, it's easy to quantify it. They know exactly how much time or money it would save them, and are willing to prove this with their actions.

I recently came across this short video with Keith Rabois, where he makes a similar point and articles it well.

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