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The major difference between these is that consumer goods are final goods while industrial goods are a factor of production. This means that consumer goods are simply used by the consumer while industrial goods are used to create other goods. As an example, the clothes that we wear are consumer goods. So is our home computer or our mobile phone. By contrast, an industrial good is something like a welding machine or a drill press or the robots that are used to make cars. The difference, then, is really in what they are used for.
There is a difference between consumer products and industrial products. Industrial products include the machinery and resources used to make consumer products. Sometimes these products are referred to as the means of production. The conveyor belt used in the process of manufacturing products is an example of an industrial good. Any other piece of machinery used in the manufacturing process is an example of an industrial product.
Consumer products are products that you and I use. The car that is used to take you from place to place is an example of a consumer good. The television set that you use to watch programs is also an example of a consumer good. Consumer products are made from industrial products. Consumer products are available for sale by consumers. Most products that you use are examples of consumer products.
"Industrial goods" refers to the instruments or machinery and parts used in the manufacture of "consumer goods," the items sold directly to the public. Industrial goods range from the tool and die equipment used to manufacture machinery for production of parts to be assembled into a final product for distribution to the consumer, to the machinery actually used in assembling the components into a retail product. In contrast, then, consumer goods are the products that line retail store shelves. Consumer goods, obviously, include everything sold to the public, including computers, tractors for the agricultural and transportation sectors, furniture, houses, and more.
The link provided below to biz.yahoo.com provides a useful breakdown of the major categories of industrial goods as analyzed by sector. By tracking such categories as "lumber and building supplies" and "general building materials," the government, business analysts and others can track the overall state of the economy, as these sectors generally provide good indicators of the economic welfare of the nation as a whole. The welfare of the home construction industry, for instance, is a commonly-used indicator of the overall strength or weakness of the U.S. economy, as it is directly linked to the propensity of the American public to exhibit tendencies associated with upward mobility.
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