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Customer vs. Buyer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 24, 2023
A customer is anyone who purchases or intends to purchase goods or services, while a buyer specifically refers to an individual or entity actively engaged in the purchase of goods or services.

Key Differences

The term "customer" broadly encompasses anyone who purchases or uses goods or services. This term is often used in retail and service industries to refer to people who buy products or use services, regardless of the frequency or volume of their purchases.
A "buyer," on the other hand, implies a more active role in the process of purchasing. Buyers are often involved in selecting and deciding on the purchase of goods, whether for personal use, for a company, or for resale. They might engage in negotiations or seek specific items.
Customers are the end-users of products or services and may not always be involved in the decision-making process of purchasing. For instance, a customer of a utility service uses the service but might not have been the one deciding to initiate it.
Buyers can also be intermediaries in business transactions, such as purchasing agents for companies, who make buying decisions but are not the final users of the product or service. Their role is more focused on the acquisition aspect rather than consumption.
The concept of a customer is more inclusive and relates to the experience and relationship with the seller or service provider. In contrast, a buyer is more transaction-focused, emphasizing the act and strategy of purchasing.

Comparison Chart

Definition Focus

Consumption of goods or services
Act of purchasing goods or services

Role in Transaction

May not actively select products
Actively selects and purchases products

Involvement in Decision Making

Not always involved in the purchasing decision
Directly involved in the purchasing process

End Use

Often the end-user of the product or service
May or may not be the end-user

Relationship with Seller

Emphasizes ongoing relationship and experience
Focuses on the transaction and negotiation

Customer and Buyer Definitions


An individual who purchases goods or services.
The restaurant quickly responded to the customer's feedback.


Someone actively seeking to acquire goods or services.
As a first-time home buyer, she was excited about the purchase.


A user of services provided by a public or private organization.
As customers of the internet provider, they expected reliable service.


An intermediary in trade, purchasing for resale or production.
The buyer procured raw materials for the manufacturing company.


A frequent patron of a particular store or business.
He was a loyal customer at the local coffee shop.


An individual or entity making a purchase.
The buyer negotiated a better price for the car.


A person receiving services from a professional or public utility.
As a customer of the bank, she was eligible for the loan.


A person responsible for purchasing goods for a business.
The buyer for the store sourced products from various suppliers.


Someone considering the purchase of goods or services.
The store welcomed potential customers during its promotional event.


A participant in financial markets purchasing securities.
The buyer added several new stocks to their investment portfolio.


One that buys goods or services, as from a store or business.


One that buys, especially a purchasing agent for a retail store.


(Informal) An individual with whom one must deal
That teacher is a tough customer.


A person who makes one or more purchases.
Every person who steps through the door is a potential buyer, so acknowledge their presence.


(retailing) A person who purchases items for resale in a retail establishment.
The supermarket's new buyer decided to stock a larger range of vegetarian foods.


(manufacturing) A person who purchases items consumed or used as components in the manufacture of products.


One who buys; a purchaser.


A person who buys


What does a buyer do?

A buyer actively engages in the purchase of goods or services.

Is a buyer always the end-user?

No, buyers can purchase for themselves, a business, or for resale.

Do customers have a long-term relationship with sellers?

Customers often have ongoing relationships with sellers, especially in services.

Are buyers focused on negotiations?

Buyers often engage in negotiations, especially in business-to-business transactions.

Is the buyer’s role important in procurement?

Yes, buyers play a crucial role in procurement, especially in organizational settings.

Can a customer influence product design?

Customers can influence product design through their preferences and feedback.

Who is a customer?

A customer is anyone who purchases or uses goods or services.

Can a customer be a business?

Yes, businesses can be customers when they use services or buy products.

Do customers always make purchase decisions?

Not necessarily; customers may use services without being decision-makers.

Can a customer be one-time?

Yes, customers can be one-time or occasional patrons of a business or service.

Do buyers work in various industries?

Buyers work across industries, wherever procurement of goods or services is needed.

Are buyers involved in supply chain management?

Buyers are key players in supply chain management, especially in selecting suppliers.

Do buyers require specific skills?

Buyers often need negotiation, analytical, and decision-making skills.

Are buyers responsible for cost-saving?

Buyers often aim to reduce costs while maintaining quality in their purchases.

Do customers have rights and protections?

Customers have rights and protections under various consumer laws.

Can a buyer be a professional role?

Yes, buyers can be professionals responsible for purchasing in organizations.

Are all buyers customers?

Yes, buyers are a subset of customers, as they purchase goods or services.

Do customers provide feedback?

Customers often provide feedback on their experience with products or services.

Are customers important for market research?

Yes, understanding customers is crucial for effective market research.

Can customer behavior impact sales?

Customer behavior significantly impacts sales and marketing strategies.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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