Written by Oumar Barou Togola of Farafena, 2019 BC Food and Beverage Sustainability Award Finalist 

Since our inception, Farafena’s goal has been to share the ancient grains and superfoods of Africa with the rest of the world. Through our equitable direct partnerships with women farmers in Mali, we have grown our Business-to-Consumer (B2C) model from (quite literally) the ground up. There comes a time, however, when a growing business must evaluate the market in which they are operating and decide if there are other opportunities that will help them achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively. For Farafena, that opportunity was a Business-to-Business (B2B) venture - selling to wholesalers who can put our product on grocery store shelves and thus make our ancient grains and superfoods more accessible. That’s not to say that we’re completely abandoning our Business-to-Consumer (B2C) model. Our B2B efforts will work complementary to our current e-commerce site.

Of course, decisions like this are not made overnight. We’ve spent countless hours researching outlets, strategizing our marketing efforts, and evaluating our competition. Throughout this experience, there were 5 questions we asked ourselves. Answering these helped justify the time, money, and manpower it would take to enter the B2B market.


1.Will you lose your competitive advantage?

When it comes to selling direct to consumers (B2C), companies are able to play off emotions. Purchases that are made by B2C buyers are usually personal and have a direct impact on the lives of the purchasers. In B2B sales, buyers are likely less attached to the decision and interested more on the financial impact it will have on their business. That being said, if a company positions themselves in a B2C market as a “feel-good” product, it will likely need to pivot the B2B angle to something more like a “good decision” product and explain WHY. Because B2B shoppers are buying for their company, they often need to be reassured that they are making the right decision. In fact, 44% of B2B buyers prefer to have access to an ROI Calculator to help make a buying decision.

In our research, we found one similarity between B2B and B2C consumers that aligned with our current competitive advantage and that was customer service. According to Accenture, 73% of B2B buyers still want a personalized, B2C-like customer experience that includes quick response rates and 24/7 availability.


2. What will change in the sales cycle?

As anticipated, our research proved that the sales cycle in B2C is a lot different than B2B. To start, B2B buyers have a much longer chain of command when it comes to purchase decisions. According to Accenture, “most B2B buyers perform 8-12 online searches before interacting with a vendor’s website and are already 57% of the way through the buying process before they speak with a sales representative”. Before even making the decision to purchase, 77% of B2B buyers conduct a detailed ROI analysis.

Although the longer buying process was discouraging to learn at first, we later found that we have already taken some steps in the right directing by establishing LinkedIn as an active content sharing platform through our social strategy. According to Hubspot, LinkedIn is 277% more effective in generating B2B leads than B2C leads.


3. What marketing challenges could you face?

Unfortunately, B2B marketing isn’t as easy as simply creating a LinkedIn account. Previous to entering the B2B market, our target market was household decision-makers - typically moms, middle-aged, middle-class, who cared about health and sustainability. Now, Think with Google tells us that half of all B2B buyers are Millennials! Of these buyers, 96% want to be seeing content from their vendors that showcase thought leadership in the industry. Hubspot put it best when it explained the difference between B2B and B2C: “B2B Buyers want efficiency and expertise, while B2C customers are more likely seeking deals and entertainment”

Meet the team at Farafena on September 17 at the BC Food and Beverage Awards Gala, as finalist of the 2019 Sustainability Award

Click here to purchase Gala tickets.

4. Do you have the proper internal resources?

This question will be answered differently for every company and will be contingent on the product or service you sell. However, one thing that remains constant throughout B2B operations is that case studies are one of the best ways to accelerate and convert sales leads. Case studies and testimonials are so valuable but can be hard to generate if you do not have the proper internal resources. With 95% of communicators using email as a feedback channel, it is crucial for B2B businesses to utilize sophisticated email marketing software. Part of our strategy moving into the B2B space is to establish both an internal and external email communication strategy.


5. What is the long term benefit?

Typically, B2B buyer/seller relationships are relatively long term compared to B2C. Because of the lengthy research and approval process, B2B sellers must nourish their relationship with potential buyers for a longer period of time. Although it is more time consuming, B2B

transactions are often larger orders and lead to repeat contracts. For Farafena, the benefit is that we can sell in bulk to a retailer while still making our product available online to consumers.


As I said before, the decision to enter the B2B market is not an easy one and the process can be lengthy. These questions and the research we did helped us throughout the process; however, I can imagine that this is by no means a one size fits all. We are learning more each day and with each step we take toward this move. If you’d like to follow along with our journey or learn more about our products, please visit our website: www.farafena.com.


We invite you to join us on September 17th at the BCFPA’s BC Food and Beverage Awards Gala!  It’s an amazing evening of great food, networking, and most importantly – a celebration of the ‘best of the best’ in BC’s food and beverage processing industry at the Westin Bayshore Hotel.  

Enjoy a gourmet dinner created exclusively for this event crafted with locally sourced food and drinks as we celebrate the companies, products, and leaders who have truly made an impact over the past year.  We’ve got an amazing group of finalists for this year’s awards, and an absolute highlight is hearing their stories firsthand.  With an expected attendance of 500 industry leaders and stakeholders, MC’d by Top Chef Canada’s Mijune Pak and celebrity socialite Fred Lee hosting the red carpet, this is the industry event you won’t want to miss!  

This is your night to celebrate your success, and support the BCFPA. Please consider purchasing a table and invite your staff, customer and/or clients to join in the celebration with you!

Get your tickets before September 3rd : https://bcfpa.ca/events/bc-food-and-beverage-awards-gala-2019