The difference between customer vs consumer vs client

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The words “client”, “customer” and “consumer” are often confused for one another and used interchangeably.

Many businesses don’t know the difference between the three and don’t really need to either.

However, if you launched a startup and need to determine your business goals and growth, then it’s useful to know the difference.

Let’s start with  definitions of the 3 types:

A consumer is:

  • a person who purchases goods and services for personal use; or
  • a person or thing that eats or uses something

A customer is:

  • a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business

A client is:

  • a person or organization using the services of a lawyer or other professional person or company; or
  • a person being dealt with by social or medical services

So what are the concept of each type ?


A “client” implies a long-standing relationship as well as the purchase of services, solutions, advice, etc.,

(for example)  marketing agencies , Lawyers , SPA and health care. These services and solutions can be personalized and customized for the client.

Usually a client relationship is deeper, requires more involvement, and is more profitable.


A “customer” suggests a one-time sale – like buying something from a grocery store, restaurant, Telecommunications services, etc.

It’s usually only focused on an economic exchange: the purchase of goods/products for a fixed price.


Consumers are usually thought of as the end user – the person who actually uses the product or service. So what’s the difference between a customer and consumer in ?

A mother who purchases pampers from a store is a customer, but her baby (who’ll use the product) is the consumer.

Consumer is more impersonal and often refers to the use of technological products and services (paid or not).

At the End of the Day

Business relationships thrive on mutual respect and benefits, not labels:

“It really doesn’t matter if you call your customers customers, as long as you always treat them like clients and build a long term relationship with them”

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