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Study notes

Marketing - Customers and Consumers

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

A common question that arises when studying marketing is: what is the difference between a customer and a consumer?

The following distinction should help:

A customer – purchases and pays for a product or service A consumer – is the ultimate user of the product or service; the consumer may not have paid for the product or service

Consider the following example:

A food manufacturing business makes own-label, Italian ready meals for the major supermarkets. So far as the business is concerned, the customer is the supermarket to whom it supplies meals The consumer is the individual who eats the meal

In terms of its marketing effort, who should the business above target?

In reality – it needs to understand the needs and wants of both the customer and the consumer.

It needs to develop a strong understanding of the needs of the supermarkets in terms of their requirements for ready meals (e.g. packaging, recipes, price & delivery).

It also needs to understand (perhaps with the help of the supermarkets) the needs and wants of the consumer. How are tastes changing? Are consumers happy with the standard / taste of the product?

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