What Is an End User?

The term "end user" refers to the consumer of a good or service, often who has some innate know-how that is unique to consumers. In a literal sense, the term end user is used to distinguish the person who purchases and uses the good or service from individuals who are involved in the stages of its design, development, and production.

Key Takeaways

  • An end user uses the good or service from individuals who are involved in the stages of its design, development, and production.
  • Delivery to the end user is often the final step in manufacturing and selling products.
  • References to "end users" are common in the tech industry.

Understanding End Users

In order to create a successful product or service, the people who create, develop, test, and market it must think not of their own needs, but of the end user's. Delivery to the end user is the last step after all those aforementioned processes have concluded, and the goal is to empower the end user to accomplish something that wasn't possible previously.

For example, a computer programmer designing a software platform for trading foreign currencies would need to think about the level of interface sophistication and the steps taken by the end user — how this customer would approach a trade, what the trader needs to see, how they would access data and information, how trades are to be executed, and what has to be done post-trade.

End users may have no knowledge of or direct contact with a company that constructs the components used to construct a product.

Special Considerations

References to end users are common in the technology industry, suggesting that a base level of technical expertise is expected of these customers. On March 1, 2018, Proofpoint, Inc., a cybersecurity company, announced an acquisition of a security awareness training company. The CEO of Proofpoint stated the following:

As cybercriminals continue to look for new ways to exploit employees, companies need to be vigilant about changing end-user behavior and reducing risk with cybersecurity education solutions.

In the healthcare sector, the expression is used frequently. "At the end-user level, our products are growing," commented the CEO of Dentsply Sirona, a dental supply company, in a quarterly press release in 2016. The end user alluded to here is a dental professional, again someone who applies skills in usage of the product.

An end user may have no knowledge or direct contact with a company about certain products that are used to construct the products they buy. For example, an axle manufacturer may make the axles that go in a car.

It's important for all types of companies to keep close track of changing technology and the evolving needs of their end users, so they can take steps to ensure they stay happy and continue doing business with the company. This can best be accomplished by offering high-quality products and stellar customer service.

End User vs. Customer

As stated, the term "end user" is common when it comes to technology. By contrast, the customer is the person performing the purchasing transaction of the technology. At a place of business, for example, the boss may be the one that purchases the computer, so the boss is the customer, but a junior-level employee would be the actual end user.