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Needs- Wants- Demands: How to Reconcile These Concepts in Your Marketing Plan

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Customer needs, wants, and demands are three basic concepts used in making strategic marketing decisions.


Needs are the basic requirements humans require for survival. Items like food, shelter, clothing, water and safety are basic needs. Human survival is not possible without fulfilling these items and when a need in one of these areas arises, it is an indicator of emergency.

From a marketing perspective, needs typically drive sales regardless of wants or status. The consumer will buy a product no matter what. When marketing a product that falls into the category of needs, it is important to remember that consumers give very little thought to brand in this case.

Water is a need product. When a consumer is thirsty, that person is likely to simply buy water and satisfy the need without much consideration of brand.

Needs – Marketing Considerations

  1. Competition does not show much influence on sales.

  2. Advertising costs are lower.

  3. Customer preference is of little concern.


Wants are not essential for human survival, but there is a relationship between wants and needs. When a need can be satisfied and preference comes into play, we now have a want.

For example, the person who was thirsty needed water. If that need is satisfied and the person can rely on the presence of water, a preference can emerge and create a want for a sports drink or juice.

Wants can change and therefore marketers put much more effort into marketing for products driven by want. In the case of want-category products, competition becomes a more important consideration. Additional considerations for want-driven products are complementary as well as substitute products.

In today’s economy, consumers and their wants play a critical role in innovation. Consumer expectations are more sophisticated than ever and organizations must keep up with them.

Wants – Marketing Considerations

  1. Attention should be given to satisfy evolving consumer wants

  2. Threat of competition is higher

  3. Promotional strategies become increasingly necessary to create sales

  4. Cost of advertisement is higher

  5. Different product lines may emerge


Want, when paired with the willingness to buy, the ability to pay and certain market conditions, creates demand.

In an article for Forbes, Siimon Reynolds shared a story about a friend’s trip to Paris, where he visited a luxury watch dealer, Patek Philippe. In the store, his friend discovered a single watch in a glass display case with the price tag of $1 million.

The exclusivity elevates the perceived value and drives demand.

Demand – marketing considerations

  1. Products that can create demand are typically premium products

  2. Customer willingness to buy is very high

  3. Ability to buy can convert wants into demands

Reconciling Needs, Wants and Demands

So why should marketers examine these three concepts?

At the end of the day, the best marketing strategies seek to accomplish one thing: to delight the consumer throughout the buyer’s journey…

and close the sale.

Of course, companies also want to provide consumers with what they need and want. When companies can accomplish those things and generate demand for their products and services, the sky becomes the limit.

When consumers are delighted, they become your best brand promoters and effectively spread the word about your products and services. Organizations hope that these delighted consumers can help generate demand marketing.

What is Demand Marketing?

Demand marketing is a strategy that marketers employ to create excitement about their brand, a new product, or a new service in order to generate demand. To generate that kind of demand, marketing strategies must promote awareness and inspire interest. Back up another step and you know that to garner awareness and interest, only marketing initiatives that truly understand the consumer will be successful.

The Must-Haves of Demand Generation Understand Your Audience

For consumers to become truly enthusiastic enough to create demand, marketers must understand their pain points and their wants and needs. Only then can marketing strategies be effectively designed to drive consumers toward learning about your product and, eventually, realizing that they can’t live without it. Create a buyer persona to clarify your target market and understand their pain points, challenges, problems, and individual motivations. By knowing exactly who your target buyer is, you can deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.

Provide Informative and Meaningful Content

75% of B2B consumers rely on content as a research medium when making a purchase.

When you establish your brand as a thought leader, you build trust with your consumers by providing informative and meaningful content for them. No strings attached.

There is undoubtedly content already available to them. That is why it is important that you set your brand’s messaging apart. Do your homework and uncover one or two new pieces of information or a different perspective that can make your content especially meaningful.

Transform Consumers into Brand Advocates

To actively engage with your consumers, you should aim to build strong brand relationships and loyalty. Build awareness and provide meaningful information for your prospects and consumers.

By doing so, you can generate demand for your products and services. Loyal and delighted consumers have the potential to become brand ambassadors and informal spokespeople.

User-generated content can be extremely powerful. Promote good reviews, highlight your best customers, and use images and videos of real customers using your products throughout your various social media platforms.

Measure and Realign

Just like any project plan in your business, measuring performance and realigning the strategy going forward is an important part of the process.

So, how is your content performing?

You can easily answer this question when you analyze certain data points. Metrics like traffic, engagement, and click-through rates can help you understand how effectively your efforts have been in generating interest and awareness. You can then adjust your strategy and move forward more confidently.

Final Thoughts

Whether the products are need, want or demand-driven, marketing efforts that put compelling stories and information into the hands of the right people, at the right point in the buyer’s journey, are going to win every time.


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