Difference Between a Buyer and a Consumer

When you formulate a business and marketing plan you must take the time to identify your ideal target market. The target market is the group of people most likely to patronize the business. As a business owner or operator, you should understand the difference between a buyer and a consumer so that you know how to properly market your products and services to the public.


A buyer is a customer—he is an individual or business that makes a purchase from a seller. Regardless of the scenario, the buyer is the party that gives or transfers money to the seller to secure a product. A teenager getting a video game from a store at the mall is a buyer as is a distribution company that purchases raw materials from a manufacturer on credit.


On the other hand, a consumer is a person who uses a product or service. The consumer is often called an “end user” because he is the last stop and does not usually transfer or sell the item to another party. A buyer can be a consumer, as in the example of a teenager buying and using a video game. At the same time, a consumer is not necessarily the buyer—for instance, if a mother purchases cereal for herself and her family, each family member is a consumer of the product.

B2C vs B2B

The difference between a buyer and consumer comes into play when a company is evaluating its overall business plan. A company usually falls into one, or both, of two categories—B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). As the name "business to business" suggests, this is a scenario where two commercial entities enter into a purchasing agreement. The purchasing business is simply a buyer when it plans to resell the items purchased, but it is a consumer when it uses them (as in the case of buying office supplies). A business to consumer arrangement is between a commercial entity and the end user.


When marketing a product or service a company has to identify the needs of both the buyer and the consumer. For example, a publisher who sells textbooks must market to both the distributor who will sell the textbooks and the professors who will order them for class. The requirements of a buyer may be different from the consumer, if they are two separate people, but in many cases the buyer’s decision is strongly influenced by the consumer’s needs.


About the Author

Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.