Let’s pretend the good man works in supply chain and the cat is a customer. Our good man considers his customer to be the "retailers" of his organization's product. However, his neighbour, who works in Marketing, would consider his customers to be "consumers". Going through other parts of the organization, our customer changes names: "purchaser" in the wholesale department, "account" to accounts payable, "buyer" in FMCG…
Is the whole organisation talking about the same customer but with different names?
Not necessarily. While a customer is defined as "someone who pays for goods or services", a consumer, on the other hand, is "a person who uses goods or services". So the customer pays for the goods or service while the consumer uses them. A consumer is not a customer.
On the other hand, “retailers”, “purchaser”, “accounts” and “buyer” could be synonyms of “customer” since they also pay for products or services without the idea of consuming them.
By specifying the relationship a customer, or its many given names, has with goods and services. A consumer only uses the goods, a customer purchases them: the relationship is different.
A retailer is a customer purchasing products with the intention to resell them. The purchase of the products makes the retailer a customer but the intention to resell these products makes it a different customer. A retailer is still a customer, just a bit more special.
By building a business glossary. Using semantics, this glossary would describe consumer and customer as 2 separate terms. Purchaser, buyer and account would be featured as synonyms of customer. Retailer would be featured as a sub-type of customer. This would allow our good man to know the difference between his retailer as a special customer and his neighbour’s consumer. Any data modeller would recognise here that semantics form the basis for information architecture (or conceptual data modelling by any other name).
As Customers and Consumers are not the same, they are not described in the same manner. The information required by a Marketing department to identify which Consumers to target will be different from the information Accounts Payable would require to collect payments for the goods or services a Customer would have purchased. One would be interested in demographic and interests while the other is more focused on payment details.
Specifying the different aspects of Consumers and Customers allows us to:
A customer is NOT a consumer.
A customer is a purchaser is a buyer is an account is a customer.
And a retailer is a special customer.