Client or Consumer? Understanding the Key Differences for Business Success

Client or Consumer? Understanding the Key Differences for Business Success

A ‘consumer’ is the most essential piece of the business-cycle puzzle. Without a consumer, there would be no business. But are all kinds of consumers the same?

This question begs some pondering and a nuanced understanding of business-consumer relationship.

On the surface, one might assume that all consumers are the same. However, a business can have customers and clients. Although the terms signify a rather similar meaning, yet there exists a stark difference between the two as well.

For any business to prosper, it is essential that they understand the difference between who is a client and who is a customer. This understanding can help them communicate with their consumers better and also achieve better business outcomes. Failing to make the distinction between the two types of consumers can lead to businesses leveraging the incorrect methods to target the specific type of consumer. This can ultimately culminate into ineffective marketing, higher expenses, and expensive mistakes.

In this article we will dive into understanding the points of distinction between a client and a customer. In order to do so we must first understand who is a customer and who is a client.

Who is a Customer?

A customer can be described as a consumer who buys a product or a service from a certain shop, store, or organization. A customer’s loyalty largely lies with a brand and not any specific store. A typical feature of a customer is one who makes purchases on a regular basis. They would typically go for a specific kind of service or product that can be procured immediately.

A typical trait of a customer is that their priority is ‘convenience’. If a specific product is available in different stores, they will not showcase loyalty towards a store but pick one which suite their convenience. If one store or buying platform offers a better price, they are likely purchase it from there.

A customer is also specific about what they are expecting out of a purchase. Their association with a specific business is limited to a one-time purchase and they might not return again.

Since the transaction is a quick one where they pay for a product and expect to receive it immediately, hence their buying decision is likely to be swayed by various factors. Factors such as better pricing, proximity of store, ease of purchase might influence their purchasing decision easily.

Let’s look into specific examples of who is a customer.

The consumer strolling in a food-court, looking for the best deals on a meal is a customer. His decision to pick one fast food chain over the other could depend on various small factors. However, the purchase will be a one-time transaction and there might not be a brand loyalty built. On his next shopping spree if he finds a better deal at another fast-food chain, he is likely to go for that option.

Similarly, an individual looking to buy fresh produce from a farmer’s market will pick the seller based on his preference at the moment. However, the next time he could also buy fresh produce from a store near his house, in favour of convenience.

In terms of an online craft store such as Wonderkraftz, a consumer looking to buy crafting supplies or a specific gift, will pick an option that suits his needs best. However, the next time he looks to purchase something on the same lines, his preference might be different. 

Who is a Client?

Unlike a customer, a client is one who builds an extended relationship with a business or organization. Instead of making a one-time, instant purchase, a client has a closer relationship with the business which also has more personal interaction.

Rather than just sell a product or service to the client, a business builds a collaboration with specific client and cater to their needs or wants. Essentially, this would require the brand to customize their products and services to align with the specific needs of their clients.  

Loyalty is a major aspect of being a client. A consumer who is a client cultivates an association with a brand which is an ongoing process. Trust is another key factor of being a businesses’ client. A client communicates his requirements and needs with the business. Based on their suggestions, a business can alter their product or service. This relationship also motivates the brand to align with deadlines and stipulated timelines.

A satisfied client also has more potential to bring in newer clients through referrals. Association with clients also helps businesses gain valuable feedback, which can eventually improve their respective products or services.

Know the Difference: Boost Business 

So far we have made the case for understanding the distinction between a customer and a client. It is something vital for any business's success.

While a customer has a short-lived association with a business, a client has a more long-term relationship with a business. Trust and loyalty is another key difference that distinguishes a customer from a client.



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