Marketing Needs wants and demands

To help understand customer requirements it is helpful to think in terms of needs, wants and demands of the customer. Needs are defined as ‘states of felt deprivation’ such as food and self-expression. Needs become wants when it is directed towards a specific object or service that is believed to satisfy that need. Wants are the manifestation of the human need that is shaped by the individual and their culture.

Wants become demands when the customer has the capacity and inclination to pay for the object or service.

Marketers divide the types of needs into stated, real, unstated, delight and secret needs as shown below:

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Alternatives to Maslow: Max-Neef

Alternatives to Maslow: Max-Neef

As discussed in an earlier blog post, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been getting a bad rap. The categories of Maslow’s are great, but the use of the pyramid seems questionable.

This line of thought, and a recent marketing assignment, had me wondering – if Maslows is faulty, what else could I reference when explaining possible needs of the consumer?

Enter Max-Neef’s theory of Fundamental Human Needs. According to wikipedia Max-Neef classifies the fundamental human needs as:

  • subsistence
  • protection
  • affection
  • understanding
  • participation
  • leisure
  • creation
  • identity
  • freedom

Kathy McMahon from blog peak oil blues has written a great post on Maslow’s and Max-Neef, if you have ten minutes to spare, check it out.


Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs is a very widely used MBA and marketing model. What is it, why is it contentious, and should you use it?

In 1943 Abraham Maslow came up with the theory that is commonly referred to as ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. Maslow believed that we have five main categories of needs:

  • Physiological
  • Safety
  • Belongingness & Love
  • Esteem
  • Self-Actualization

It’s widely used, not just in marketing. In the marketing context it is used to help think on how the companies product or service meets these (usually) non-stated needs. By meeting the holistic needs of the consumer, the product will be more meaningful to them, and in turn, have greater success.

The following diagram summaries the theory:

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