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.

  • 如果一个人进入一家店铺,但是没有买任何东西,也可以称他为顾客,但不能称他为客户。不过在大多情况下,客户则是可以叫做顾客的。
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 4:09

6 Answers 6


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
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 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
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 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
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 3:31

顾客 can be explained as "a guest(客) who visits(顾) our shop," that is, a customer. Its opposite side is a retailer.
客户 (client) often refers to one or more people who comes to negotiate a business. Its opposite side 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.


顾客 is a customer, people who buy goods or services, especially from a shop.

客户 is a client, for whom professional or organizations provides professional goods or services.

So there are mainly 2 differences between these two words:

1 客户 sounds more formal and professional compared with 顾客。

2 顾客 is more used for ordinary customers, especially for shops, and small businesses.

But there is also an obvious trend that we use 客户 more often than before to make our customers feel more comfortable and to show respect. Hope this can help.


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" ? Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 17:52
  • Chinese single/plurality have no difference IN FORM, but single/plurality is different is Chinese.
    – gcd0318
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 2:52

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