Catalytic Thinking / Opinion

Wants vs needs


What do you want? What do you need?

As marketers, our job is to sell stuff to people. They might not know that they want it yet, but we’re going to make them buy it.

But do they need it? Let’s look at technology.

No-one, really, needs a netbook, smartphone or iPad.

Sure, they allow you to work productively when out and about, keep tabs on all of your networks, waste time elegantly.

But we don’t need these things, in the same way that we need food, water, shelter, a sense of security, a sense of place and so on.

We might say “I need an iPad to…” or “I need a netbook so I can work on the train”.

If you listen to this reasoning, you’re only getting half of the story.

These aren’t actual needs, they’re wants.

What we actually might need (using the word in its truest form) is more time at home, or to be more present when we’re at home.

That’s what we actually need. We might want it as well, but the need is more fundamental than the want. Needs drive us as evolutionary organisms. Wants make life that little bit nicer.

I think that if we as marketers can assess everything we do in relation to the real root need, we’ll be able to target our customers on very deep, fundamental levels. We’ll understand the need behind the ‘want’.

It’s a case of listening to the “needs” and working out what’s really needed, what’s wanted and what’s required.

It’s time to look deeper…

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