Wants vs. needs? You’re selling both

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Seth Godin, one of the best marketing bloggers I follow, says wants and needs are often confused. He writes:

That pays off for any marketer that has persuaded his market that they need what he sells. It backfires when those ‘needs’ are seen for what they actually are–luxuries.

I agree with Godin in both his point and his brevity. But in being admirably concise, he omits a noteworthy nuance. People are more eager to buy things they want than things they need. They’ll go to great lengths to pay the lowest price possible for actual needs – stuff like medicine, groceries, industrial consumables. But they’ll happily spend more on things they want – think wine, golf clubs, a redecorated office.

The point? While Seth Godin is correct that you’ll improve sales by persuading people you can fill a need, you’ll lubricate the sales process and increase pricing margins by convincing people that your product is also something they want.

As evidence, consider:

  • Dell v. Apple
  • Toyota Yaris v. Mini Cooper
  • Emerson audio equipment v. Bose

There’s a lesson for your marketing in that knowledge too.


About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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