Consumer vs. Customer: is there a difference?

The answer is yes, if you ask me.  But to make things simple:

Consumer = Customer on a global level

Customer is a word that many people are much more comfortable with.  The difference, for these purposes, is that when I use the word customer, I am talking specifics.

A person can be a customer of a particular brand or business, but they cannot be a customer in general.  A consumer, is anyone who is a customer of any brand or business.  I am a Whole Foods customer, I am not a Netflix customer.  But I am, and will always be, a consumer.

As a marketer, I am trying to attract new customers from a worldwide (depending on the business) pool of consumers.

I, Consumer

Define Consumer.To understand the purpose and meaning behind this blog, you must first understand the term "consumer" as I use it.

Merriam Webster defines consumer as “one who uses economic goods”.  Going by this very broad definition of the word, it’s easy to see why I would say that we are all consumers.

A consumer, in an economic sense, is any person or organization who purchases a good or a service for their own use.  By this definition, a company who purchases products in order to do business is a single consumer.  But also, the person within the company that is actually making the purchasing decision is a consumer on behalf of the company.  And of course, any John or Jane making a purchase at the store, or at home with the help of a phone or computer (wink, wink), is a consumer acting on their own behalf.

Going one step further, I’d like to add in the phrase “or acquires” right into the middle of that definition. “Any person or organization who purchases or acquires a good or a service for their own use”.

Why did I do this? I did it simple to show you that a person can consume something that they did not pay for. 

Have you ever downloaded music illegally? A 2009 study by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), stated that 95% of all downloaded music was done so illegally, so I hope that most everyone reading this has had the privilege of  listening to free music that’s not on the radio.  Anyway, if you download a song for free, you’re a consumer of that song.  If I pick up a free copy of AM New York on my way to work, I am a consumer of that particular newspaper.  You don’t have to BUY something in order to be a consumer.

There it is, in its simplest form.  We are all consumers.  We all purchase or acquire goods and services daily.  And therefore, there is someone somewhere that would like to sell to any one of us.