Is There a Better Alternative to the Term: Customer vs. Consumer?

Shopper, Preparer or Eater?

We notice that in published articles and when we first begin working with clients, that they use the words ‘customer’ and ‘consumer’ interchangeably. In this ‘Mini Blog – Customer Vs. Consumer‘ is about using better alternatives.

We believe that this is more than semantics and is a fundamental change in mindset to use the appropriate term. In the case of food – A ‘customer’ is someone who buys the product and the ‘consumer’ is someone who eats the product. For example, Mum buys a Pineapple and her children eat it. Mum is the customer, the preparer and her children are the consumers.

We prefer to use the terms ‘shopper’, ‘preparer’ and ‘eater’ as opposed to customer vs. consumer because, they separate the three groups more easily and they do what they say on the tin, shops, prepares and eats. When you get to washing powder it can be a little more tricky!

 3 pink icons symbolising the shopper, preparer, eater

The shopper, preparer, and eater rather than customer vs. consumer

Consider a Pen Portrait

To help bring this to life within your business, consider a Pen Portrait. A Pen Portrait is a tool that helps you understand your shopper, your preparer and your eater. This enables you to keep them front of mind, and most importantly helps you make better and more informed decisions. Miss Selfridge buyers were once famous in the industry, for having a life-size cardboard cut-out of Rosie, their customer, to remind the buyers, marketers, and rangers of who they were working for.

A pen portrait might be a cardboard cut-out, it might be a one-pager, a doll, or a screen saver. It is in whatever form helps you keep it front of mind and has information that describes them.

What terms do you use when referring to the Customer Vs. Consumer? – Please add a comment below!

To understand more about the ‘shopper’, ‘preparer’ and ‘eater’ to then make better decisions find out more about our Category Management Training and our e learning Category Management course by contacting us:


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Never thought of it like this, but splitting them up into 3 groups is a better approach at describing the roles. ++++

  • Think it is essential to identify all the different customers and consumers as its good to know exactly who is the target.

  • Avatar for Andy Palmer
    Samuel Marney
    March 2, 2016 2:40 pm

    Had never thought of this before, but now I realise how important it is to be able to separate the parties as they all have a different role and which party has contact with which.

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