About customer needs and wants
A need is a basic requirement that an individual wishes to satisfy.
People have basic needs for food, shelter, affection, esteem and self-development. Many of these needs are created from human biology and the nature of social relationships. Customer needs are, therefore, very broad.
Whilst customer needs are broad, customer wants are usually quite narrow.
A want is a desire for a specific product or service to satisfy the underlying need.
Consider this example:
Consumers need to eat when they are hungry.
What they want to eat and in what kind of environment will vary enormously. For some, eating at McDonalds satisfies the need to meet hunger. For others a microwaved ready-meal meets the need. Some consumers are never satisfied unless their food comes served with a bottle of fine Chardonnay.
Consumer wants are shaped by social and cultural forces, the media and marketing activities of businesses.
This leads onto another important concept – that of customer demand:
Consumer demand is a want for a specific product supported by an ability and willingness to pay for it.
For example, many consumers around the globe want a Mercedes. But relatively few are able and willing to buy one.
Businesses therefore have not only to make products that consumers want, but they also have to make them affordable to a sufficient number to create profitable demand.
Businesses do not create customer needs or the social status in which customer needs are influenced. It is not McDonalds that make people hungry. However, businesses do try to influence demand by designing quality products and services that meets customer requirements.