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May I ask if the following sentence is grammatical?

Our remit is to conduct research on customer's requirements.

In my understanding, as 'customer' is a countable noun, so the plural form 'customers''' should be used instead for this general reference (without specification of certain customers).

However, I know that we can say 'traveller's cheques' - e.g.,

Traveller's cheques are available at the bank.

In this sense, actually can we say 'customer's requirements' in the first case?

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  • @HighPerformanceMark I have formatted it. Is it more readable now?
    – Jane
    Jan 22 '20 at 10:02
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At the thread Is it correct to say 'I write children books' ... not using the possessive case? one finds

There is a move away from the use of the apostrophe in the 'adjectival' (rather than the 'true possessive') sense you mention here. However, the tendency is to just drop the apostrophe rather than switch to an unusual-sounding singular modifying noun:

Childrens Home

Dogs Home

Travellers Rest

Working Mens Club

Mens Clothing Department.

It's interesting that the aid to driving invented by Percy Shaw of Halifax (UK) was called the cat's eye, plural cat's eyes, but that nowadays the modern forms cats eye / cats eyes are usually used.

Correspondingly, the unapostrophised travellers cheques is the more modern usage, as can be found say at Editex. Though many dictionaries still give the older traveller's cheques. (This may seem the less logical possessive choice, meaning 'cheques for travellers' as it does, but corresponds to 'cheques for the average traveller'.)

However, customers' requirements is by no means so fossilised (travellers cheque/s has achieved compound noun status). But the modern trend would require the attributive noun usage customer requirements (using the singular-form attributive noun, as is the usual case).

This is supported by these Google Ngrams (which also show the near-equality in the use of customer's requirements and customers' requirements ... though they fail to distinguish the generic and the non-generic usages of both customer's requirements and customers' requirements).

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  • Thanks @Edwin! So 'customer requirements' would be the most commonly used version nowadays; and 'customers' requirements' is also correct but old-fashioned. May I further ask if there is any difference between 'customers' requirements' and 'customer's requirements'. I guess the former carries an emphasis on the variety of customers, which is absent in the latter? Thx!
    – Jane
    Jan 22 '20 at 11:37
  • One would of course use the apostrophe to show possession (or at least attachment to a particular person or group of persons): 'Fred and Mary Smythe said they needed a Luggo blue whale kit pronto. We could not find one in stock in any of our stores: we failed to meet these customers' requirements. But Ali Khan asked for a kit tyrannosaur; we were able to meet that customer's requirements.' // If one insists on an apostrophised form for the generic case, although the Google Ngrams do not force this (the generic usage), there seems little to choose between customer's ... Jan 22 '20 at 17:49
  • requirements and customers' requirements. The emphasis you mention may exist, but using a singular to stand in for what might logically be expected to be a plural is not unheard of (eg traveller's cheques). Jan 22 '20 at 17:55
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    Thank you for your comments, Edwin! They're helpful!
    – Jane
    Jan 23 '20 at 3:20

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