How do you know when to distinguish between when you want something vs when you need something?  Most of us know the difference between wanting and needing but as consumers the line is blurred as we transition into market norms. Sure you want a car for transportation but do you actually need that fully loaded Audi?

According to Abraham Maslow we have two categories of basic needs. The first being physiological needs which include food, water, warmth, and sleep and are all things we need for survival. The second category of needs is safety needs which include personal security, financial security, and health. Basic needs are the bare minimum essentials a human being needs to survive and thrive. Another way to look at these two categories of basic needs are Functional Needs and Emotional Needs.

Want or Desire refers to a strong longing for something in which a person intensely yearns, or eagerly wishes for. Consumption is increasingly seen as being based upon our desires more so than our functional needs. Desires are more emotional than rational in our cognitive mind. Things we desire include safety, comfort, love, and the belief of a higher power. People that purchase an array of products aren’t mindless consumers as they are made out to be, rather individuals fulfilling their rational or irrational desires. We all want to feel as though we are in control of our lives, and with so much going on in the world today with war, disease outbreaks, missing airplanes, etc..we subconsciously increase the efforts to maintain this control. Superstition and rituals become a big part of our lives when we desire to feel in control. Marketers know and target this information in an attempt to become part of your daily ritual or “superstition.”

Successful marketers figure out ways to embed their products into consumer’s desires. With every tangible product comes and intangible desire. When we buy a Rolex the tangible product being the watch itself does not fulfill our desires, the attention from our friends, strangers, and the increase in our perceived social status fulfills our desire to be loved and wanted. The same concept applies to every product we buy based on our Emotional Needs. We buy brands that are deemed cool by those we want to be desired by. Most consumers want to be told what to buy rather than think of their ideal product. Apple’s iPhone is a great example in how it sets a precedent with every generation of its device. People did not know that they wanted a fingerprint scanner until it was introduced with the iPhone 6 but now that it has been introduced, consumers expect every phone to have this feature and it becomes part of their desire when purchasing a phone in the future. With the knowledge that people purchase products to fulfill and emotional desire more so than for the actual product itself, marketers are selling consumers an experience or a fulfillment rather than a phone or a shoe. An example would be Apple’s packaging and the unboxing experience. Also Nike’s way of fulfilling your desire to be like your favorite athlete.

What are some examples that you have come across and what do you most look forward to when purchasing a product? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow the blog to be the first to know of a new post!

One thought on “ Consumers: Wants vs Needs ”

  1. An old friend of mine who was raised in the foothills of the Appalachians back in the 60’s told me of his early struggles once. He spoke of how he and his young bride stretched every dollar as they worked and attended college at the same time.
    Shortly after my friend got his engineering degree, he landed a job at E.T. Barwick industry. He told me of how proud he was of buying his first new car. I’ll never forget the gleam in his eye when he spoke of that purchase. “You know you have made it when you can afford a Cadillac ” he said.
    How true your statement is about purchasing for social status.

    Liked by 1 person

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