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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brand Appeal: Consumer Needs Versus Wants

Had a conversation with one of our clients the other day about needs vs. wants as a driver for product development. He's facing resistance from folks within the organization still focused on satisfying "functional" product/service needs. But fulfilling needs is not the end game.

"Needs" is a category-based concept. People need detergent, need new sneakers, need a new car. But they buy brands based on wants. Based on how these brands make them feel, and reflect positively upon them in your presence. It's why they choose Tide because they want to feel like they're doing the best for their kids, buy Nike because they want to be like Mike, buy a Mini because they want the status and prestige of affordable cool.

But to identity wants, you need to be rooted in your consumers world. To understand their motivations and desires. Beyond their stated needs, which won't move you beyond the status quo. And then you need to align this understanding with what makes your brand different and special.

Cater to needs, and you'll quickly be displaced. Appeal to wants and desires, and be the only one to be able to deliver your unique bundle of benefits, and you'll insure your relevance, differentiation and connection.

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