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Also known as an industrial customer, an industrial consumer is an entity that purchases products with the intent of using those products in the course of operating a business. This is different from a private consumer, who purchases goods and services for their own personal use. The term is also sometimes used to identify any customer that purchases industrial products, whether they are intended for use by a business, a non-profit organization, or by an individual.
The industrial consumer may be associated with just about any type of industry. Customers in the agricultural industry who purchase heavy farm equipment, or buy supplies needed to operate commercial farms would fall into this category. In like manner, mining operations that purchase equipment and supplies that are essential for the process of extracting minerals and other natural resources from the earth would be considered industrial customers or consumers. Even a business that is part of the transportation industry, such as a company that builds roads for municipalities, will purchase materials used in the course of their business operation, and fit the description of an industrial consumer.
An industrial consumer may purchase any type of good or service. A common example is utilities, such as gas and electricity. Manufacturing plants require electricity to operate equipment that in turn produces the goods that the factor owner sells. The energy company supplying the power to the plant would consider the company that operates the factory to be an industrial consumer.
It is not unusual for an industrial consumer to purchase goods and services in bulk. This strategy helps the customer to obtain discounts that would not be possible with purchasing smaller quantities from time to time. Volume purchasing agreements are created with industrial consumers in mind, since they often provide a lower price per unit purchased in exchange for the customer making a commitment to purchase a minimum number of units within a defined period of time. A contract of this type can be used for all sorts of goods, as well as for telecommunication services and similar products.
There is some difference of opinion over whether the term “industrial consumer” is actually correct. For those who feel that a consumer is an individual and not a business or other organized entity, the preference is to refer to those users as industrial customers. In spite of misgivings in some quarters of the business world, many producers of the products purchased in bulk by companies and other entities refer to their clientele as industrial consumers