This is a relatively simple question, but until now I have not consistently heard or seen a dominant choice. Is there a difference? And if so what is the difference.


顾客 is a customer, a shopper, an end user.

客户 is a client, an intermediary purchaser.

They overlap somewhat, but these are the principal definitions.

  • So a 客户 could be a reseller? – Ming Dec 22 '15 at 0:59
  • 1
    A 购买者 is a purchaser which is a 客户 or client to a 制造商 or a manufacturer. The purchaser is a 客户 in relation to the 制造商, but not a 顾客. The 购买者 is purchasing goods to resell (or perhaps use in production), so he is a 商人 or merchant. The end user who purchases the goods from the 商人 is a 顾客 in relation to the merchant, but could also be called 客户. If you open an account at a bank, you are an end user, but regarded as a 客户. 客户 is more versatile, 顾客 more specific. – user4452 Dec 22 '15 at 1:22
  • And to clarify, 客人 is a guest or visitor. Can it be used to mean end-user? Maybe of a service? – tao Dec 22 '15 at 3:31

顾客 can be explained as "a guest(客) who visits(顾) our shop," that is, a customer. Its opposite site is a retailer.
客户 (client) often refers to one or more people who comes to negotiate a business. Its opposite site is a company or a self employed person (e.g. a psychiatrist or a lawyer). I believe both words appear under Western influence.


客户 (client) is more formal, also it is used to refer to repeat or long term customers.

顾客 (customer) is more casual, most of time it is used to refer to shopper or diner, people who are not purchasing on a regular basis.

for example, if I ordered something from a store or online, I am a 顾客. But if I rent a place, a car or consistently have products being shipped to me (usually under a contract), then I am a 客户.

In other words, 客户 is someone who you have an established agreement with. 顾客 is just someone who purchase from you.


in S.E. Asia, we only use 顾客 for clients and customers or any person or group involved or taking part in buying our products n services in our daily business.

Whilst 客户, funnily I only find it in newspapers. So I guess it's only for written Chinese.


顾客 always refers to people as each single person, but 客户 is always a group or organization

  • may not be "single person", Chinese doesn't have plurality and singularity. How about " 今天的顾客很多" ? – Wang Zong'an Jan 27 '16 at 17:52
  • Chinese single/plurality have no difference IN FORM, but single/plurality is different is Chinese. – gcd0318 Mar 8 '16 at 2:52

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