Both customers and clients pay for either goods or services, but they still fall in the same "customer/client" category, as in they buy stuff from you.

What would be the proper general term for this category?

I'm asking because I need to store both under the same category, and don't want to choose between either customers or clients.

Update: Thanks to Josh61's "clientele" answer.

But would there also be a singular noun for it?

As in:

  • A client
  • A customer
  • A ...

8 Answers 8


In the given context, why don't you try "buyer"?

It's singular, it encompasses both clients and customers, and it describes a category of people who "buy stuff from you".

  • I thought about that as well, and it fits my context, but to me it lacks the descriptiveness of customer/client. Maybe I'm just too picky.
    – jlmmns
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 22:51

You may us clientele:

  • Clients collectively: an upscale clientele (ODO)


  • (British English) The clientele of a place or organization are its customers or clients. (Collins)
  • 1
    Although this seems correct (thank you), I was hoping there would be a singular noun for it, to fit my programming needs. Too bad, I guess? :)
    – jlmmns
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 21:58
  • Isn't "clientele" a pluralization of "client" ?
    – Ben
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 0:27

I'd use consumer.

"a consumer" can be a buyer, a client, or a customer.

  • consumer - "a person who buys goods and services"

Shopper would fit.


  1. A ​person who is ​buying things from a ​shop or a ​number of ​shops,
  2. One who visits stores in search of merchandise or bargains.

I will go with expender (also, spender or disburser).

: someone who spends money to purchase goods or services WordNet Farlex


If you want a general term (that can also apply to sellers or vendors if needed) counterparty: An opposite party in a contract or financial transaction.


You could consider using "purchaser" or "buyer":

A person who buys something; a buyer

‘He said that more than £1.8bn was spent in England by public purchasers on food each year.’

[Oxford Online Dictionary]


"consumer" comes to mind.......

  • This post would be improved by explaining why you suggest this term, for example, by providing a dictionary definition or examples in the wild. I encourage you take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 2:39
  • 1
    No, traders and brokers and their customers don't consume the goods they deal in.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 9:51

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