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My question stems from the fact that the word 'partner' is excessively used in the former USSR countries when referring to or addressing their customers/clients/buyers. Russian-speaking manufacturers/suppliers/providers/sellers etc. very often use 'our partners' in the meaning of 'our customers/clients/buyers' or start letters with 'Dear Partners, ...' - with the same meaning.

It's not so odd as far as Russian is concerned, but is it in English?

Many thanks in advance!

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    It's a sort of "advertising speak" -- an attempt to convince customers that you are on their side, working for them.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 17 at 12:38
  • Yes, sure, I see. Is it quite frequent/acceptable among native English speakers?
    – Andrei A
    Jun 17 at 12:43
  • It would not be used in English like that unless there was some special situation.
    – Lambie
    Jun 17 at 13:19
  • Thank you, Lambie -- got it.
    – Andrei A
    Jun 17 at 13:52
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    Your partners must "share common goals" with you. That doesn't usually apply with customers / clients, where you're selling something and they're buying it. But if one or both parties are "middlemen" (engaged in both buying and selling), it's not ridiculous to call them "partners" (if, say, you sell to them, and they then sell your goods on to the end-user). Jun 17 at 15:09

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There are cases where Partner would be required & cases where it should be avoided & cases where Either can be used.

(1A) Customers are not your Partners:
When you go to a shop and buy things, you are a Customer. In case you give your email address to get newsletters, you should be addressed "Customer".

(1B) Cynical view:
When the shop wants to make you feel you are a "Part" of the business, it may want to use the word "Partner" [[ this is the "advertising speak", in comment by user Hot Licks ]] In such cases, it may even use words like "Exciting" & "your favorite Item is available" & "your Exclusive membership ID should be renewed" to make you buy more.

(2) Customer/Buyer is not End-Customer:
When a Construction Company buys Steel or Cement or Paint, to construct housing for End-Customers, the Seller may think the Construction Company is a Partner who is actually recommending this Brand over other Brands, to the End-Customer. It may send newsletters saying "Dear Partner, thank you for using our Brand in your Construction Activities" & "Dear Partner, let us know your Estimation of the Material requirements for the next year" and this is a valid case.

(3) Political View:
It may be that in Communism, all workers are Partners & Comrades in Developing the Country.

(4) End-Customers are your Partners:
In Pyramid Schemes or Multi-level Marketing, Customers (who buy the Items) are also Partners (who sell the same Items to the next level) and it is valid to use "Partners" here.

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  • Thank you very much for such a detailed answer.
    – Andrei A
    Jun 17 at 17:49
  • As for your "political" assumption (3), no, you aren't correct. But let's agree with FumbleFingers and leave Russian to Russians.
    – Andrei A
    Jun 17 at 17:58

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