Customer perceptions of risk have a significant influence on the way buying decisions are made. The risk varies widely, however, depending on the particular buying situation facing the customer. Different aspects of the situation lead to variations in both the level and type of risk. The article defines two dimensions of risk, purchase importance and task uncertainty, and presents a two-by-two categorization of customer situations. Evaluating the four categories with the results from a survey shows that there are significant differences in the buying process, decision criteria, and information use across these customer situations. The categorization is assessed as a basis for understanding different types of customer situations and for adapting sales tactics in response to specific customer needs.