When you think about the people who buy your product, are they all the same? Do they have the same needs and wants? The answer is probably no. Consumers and customers are not one and the same, and it’s important for businesses to understand the difference. Knowing who your consumers are and who your customers are can help you make strategic decisions that improve your bottom line.
What Is A Consumer?
A consumer is defined as someone who buys goods and services for personal use. This can be contrasted with someone who purchases goods and services for business purposes. Consumers are the end-users of products and services.
There are different types of consumers:
- Extrovert Consumers – Those who develop brand loyalty and are willing to spend more on a product or service because of the emotional connection they feel towards it.
- Introvert Consumers – Those who rely on a low-cost approach to acquiring goods or services. They may just want necessary products that meet their requirements, rather than expensive commodities.
- Commercial Consumers – Those that purchase in bulk for their business. They are interested in products that will save them time and money.
- Industrial Consumers – Those who purchase for large-scale production purposes. The quality of the product is more important than the price.
- Discrete Consumers – Those who identify specific goods for which they may search for several possibilities to acquire them. They might spend more money, but other consumer groups have more regular behaviors.
What Is A Customer?
A customer, on the other hand, is defined as a person or organization that buys goods and services from a company. They might make these purchases for themselves or on behalf of others, and they may or may not utilize the items. When acquiring goods or services, customers frequently deal directly with sellers.
There are different types of customers:
- First-time Customers – Those who have never purchased from the business before. They may be hesitant and need more convincing to buy than returning customers.
- One-time Customers – As the name suggests, these customers only purchase from the business once and are not likely to return.
- Regular Customers – These are customers that frequently purchase from the business and have established a relationship with them. They may be offered loyalty programs or other incentives to keep them coming back.
- Loyal Customers – A small subset of regular customers that spend a significant amount of money with the company. They often receive exclusive treatment like dedicated customer service lines or early access to new products.
- Discount Customers – These customers search for deals and are only willing to purchase when they feel they are getting a good deal. They would shop at different locations or wait for a sale before making a purchase.
- Price-Conscious Customers – Similar to discount customers, these customers are always aware of the price of what they are buying. They may be willing to pay more for quality but will always be looking for ways to save money.
Key Differences Between Consumers And Customers
Now that we’ve looked at the definitions of consumers and customers, let’s examine some key differences between the two:
Customers make decisions based on need. A customer might buy a new car because their old one is no longer functioning well. They’ve done their research and decided on the model that meets their needs.
On the other hand, consumers make decisions based on want. A consumer might buy a new car because they saw a commercial for it and now they want it.
Frequency of Purchase
How often do customers purchase items? This can range from once to multiple times a day or even just once a year. The frequency of purchase for consumers is generally less than that of customers. For example, you might only buy a new television every five years, but you might go out to eat several times per week.
Customers are willing to spend more on a product because they believe it will serve them well. They might purchase a business suit for $500 because they know it will last them multiple years and help them make a good impression at work. On the other hand, consumers are more likely to purchase items that are less expensive because they do not plan to use them for as long or as often. For example, you might buy a new shirt for $20 because you’ll only wear it a few times.
Importance of Quality
The quality of the products purchased by customers is important to them because they need those products to perform well. They might purchase a high-quality blender because they want it to last a long time and be able to make smoothies quickly. In contrast, the quality of products purchased by consumers is not as important because they do not plan to use them as often. For example, a consumer might purchase a cheap pair of sunglasses that are more likely to break because they do not plan to wear them every day.
Customers are more likely to resell the products they purchase than consumers. For example, a customer might sell their old iPhone on eBay when they upgrade to the latest model. In contrast, a consumer is less likely to resell the products they purchase because they do not plan to use them for as long. For example, a consumer might throw away their old clothes instead of selling them because they do not plan to wear them again.
Frequency of Purchase
Customers tend to purchase items more frequently than consumers. This is because customers need to replace items that they use often, such as printer ink or light bulbs. In contrast, consumers only need to purchase items every once in a while, such as a new dress or pair of shoes.
Size of Purchase
Customers usually purchase items in smaller quantities than consumers. This is because customers only need to purchase what they need when they need it. For example, a customer might buy a single light bulb instead of a pack of four. In contrast, consumers might purchase items in bulk or larger quantities because they want to save money or have the item on hand in case they need it in the future. For example, a consumer might buy a pack of four light bulbs even if they only need one at a time.
Customers and consumers can both provide value to companies. Customers provide value by making purchases that help keep businesses running. Consumers provide value by using products and services and then sharing their experiences with others, which can help attract new customers and grow the business.
Marketing To Customers
When marketing to customers, companies should focus on the quality of their products and how they can meet the needs of the customer. They should also focus on creating a loyal customer base by providing excellent customer service.
There are a few key steps to take when marketing to customers:
- Understand what the customer wants and needs – this can be done through market research, surveys, etc.
- Develop a product or service that meets those wants and needs
- Promote the product or service in a way that will reach the target customer base
- Provide excellent customer service to encourage loyalty and repeat business.
Marketing to customers is all about creating a relationship with them and understanding what they want and need. By taking the time to do this, companies can create products and services that customers will love and keep coming back for. Excellent customer service is also essential for keeping customers happy and loyal.
Marketing To Consumers
When marketing to consumers, companies should focus on creating a need for their product and convincing the consumer that they will use it often. They should also focus on advertising their product as being affordable.
There are a few key steps to marketing to consumers:
- Research your target market: get to know who your potential customers are and what they need or want.
- Create a need for your product or service: make sure that your product or service is solving a problem for potential customers.
- Convince them of the value: let potential customers know how often they will use your product or service and how affordable it is.
- Advertise: reach out to potential customers through advertising channels like social media, television, radio, etc.
Creating marketing campaigns that meet consumers where they are and address their issues is a great approach to boost sales. Consumers may take longer to influence, but they are worth the investment because they will keep coming back.
These are just a few examples of how companies differentiate between consumers and customers. By understanding the key differences, you can begin to see why each is important to businesses and how they play a role in company decisions.
You can use this information to strategize your marketing strategies, product development, and even your sales approach. Keep in mind that a customer can be a consumer, but a consumer is not always a customer. It’s important to consider both when making business decisions!
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.