Who is more customer-centric: B2C product managers or B2B product managers?

Customer centricity of B2B or B2C product managersA recent report by Pendo.io finds interesting differences between how B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) product managers approach product management, especially as it relates to customer research.

Understanding, championing and prioritizing customer needs and wants is critical to a product manager’s role. Traditionally, B2C companies have been perceived as more adept at putting their customers first, and as a result, are often seen as more customer-centric. However, Pendo’s research illustrates a more nuanced understanding of how B2B and B2C product managers might be different as it relates to “customer-centricity.”

Because B2C product managers are more likely to have customer success backgrounds, they often prioritize alignment with their customer success department. The customer success team interacts with customers daily so they often hear first-hand what customers like and dislike about the product as well as important details regarding how customers might be using the product beyond its intended purpose. By establishing a strong alignment with the customer success team, B2C product managers gain valuable customer insights they can use to inform their product roadmap.

However, B2B product managers are also very mindful of customers’ needs and wants, but in a different way. Unlike B2C product managers who rely heavily on the customer success team, B2B product managers prioritize direct customer feedback. When asked about top sources of product ideas, B2B product managers (39%) were much more likely to rely on customer feedback than B2C product managers (10%). In fact, according to a Pendo.io blog post by Sara Estes, “Customer feedback is actually the least common source of product ideas among B2C product leaders and is the most common source for B2B product leaders.”

This insight also aligns with the survey’s findings regarding the extent to which B2B and B2C product managers rely on user feedback tools to inform their product roadmap. While more than 50 percent of B2B product managers report using some type of tool for collecting user feedback, only 23 percent of B2C product managers do the same. Instead, B2C product managers rely much more on the product use session recordings.

The key takeaway form Pendo’s survey is that while B2B and B2C product managers might go about gathering customer insights in different ways, it would be inaccurate to conclude that one group is more customer-centric than the other.

Carnegie Mellon’s Master of Science in Product Management prepares students to assume product manager roles across the B2B and B2C employer spectrum. Current students and recent graduates of the program have interned and landed jobs in both B2C companies such as Home Depot, Expedia, Dick’s Sporting Goods as well as B2B companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, and NetApp.

To learn more about the program and find out how you can advance your career in product management, visit our program page.