10/11/20 • Marketing To Wants Over Needs

As posted in the Gaston Gazette

“The American Dream.” This phrase has existed for decades around the world as people chase what they truly most desire for their lives. It’s an aspirational goal that includes opportunity, monetary gain and societal achievements in the Land of the Free. It’s a “want” among millions of Americans and those who emigrate here, but it isn’t a “need.”

We’re a goal-oriented society, constantly setting new markers for success and happiness, and constantly striving to achieve those ambitions. We often look beyond needs and toward either instant gratification or bucket-list items. Black coffee or pumpkin spice latte with an extra shot of espresso and whipped cream? Public transportation or a new BMW Mini Cooper? Sweater knit by grandma or the latest fashion trends?

In a society that follows its heart, how do you market to the wants of consumers and customers rather than the needs, and why is this targeted redirection important? Here are a few insights into making this shift in gaining audience attention:

  • Why? It’s common practice to market your business toward what a customer needs, but by considering your customer’s wants, you open new doors and capitalize on a society where the consumer’s needs can dictate the success or failure of your company. Look at your local business highway; it’s likely overflowing with retail destinations, fast food stops, dine-in restaurants, gas stations and other shops all vying for your dollars. It is a constant competition. Consumers have numerous brands to choose from, and they typically select a brand that goes beyond meeting their needs. They choose one based on wants. While needs advantageously reach an entire market, it’s the wants that narrow the market to an ideal audience. Store brand cereal will do the trick for any young breakfast eater, but Lucky Charms simply hits a sweeter spot.
  • Learn your audience. Marketing begins, first and foremost, with knowledge of your audience. How can you discuss a product or service if you don’t know who you are speaking to? Your audience will vary based on their wants and needs – not every age group, business industry and region will be a good fit. Identify those individuals who would most desire and benefit from what you have to offer and create specific target audiences. Once you know who you are targeting, you can tailor your messaging appropriately to focus on those wants and needs.
  • Tap into audience desires. “I need a new car.” “I really need a vacation next summer.” Nobody needs a new outfit or restaurant dining or that adventure to the beach. But they certainly want it! Businesses often look toward what their audiences need and how they fill a current void. But instead, turn your business into something that audiences simply must have. Create sales strategies that tap into aspirations and goals – that tap into what people want, prefer and even crave. How does your business better someone’s life? What are you selling that will increase their stature or how they feel about themselves? How does your brand fit into their lifestyle? Henry Ford is known for his Model T and changing the way we drive, but his popular vehicle was sold in one color with zero options. “I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be so low in price that no man will be unable to own one,” he said. As his competitors continued to emerge, cars were no longer only black and basic. Consumers began to choose the car they wanted and not simply what was needed … or else we might all be driving Model Ts today.
  • Stand out. Your business likely fills a niche, perhaps a needed one. But your marketing endeavors should tackle the ways in which you meet someone’s wants. For example, don’t just showcase the low rates of your service, but demonstrate the ways in which your team goes above and beyond to provide superior customer service, display the credentials of your staff and highlight that you are a local business serving the community. People want local, knowledgeable and helpful information in addition to needing assistance. Similarly, you can buy a cheap watch that tells time, yet many want the glitz of a Rolex or the technology of a Fitbit. Find critical key points specific to your company that resonate with the wants of your audience and use those within all marketing messaging.
  • FOMO. The “fear of missing out” is a real thing, and it goes one step beyond capitalizing on wants; it speaks directly toward immediacy. From the hottest trends to timely services, people act more quickly when urgency demands. Look at how your business or brand might tap into FOMO. Can you offer a limited-time discount? Is someone popular or famous using your product that can make others want it, too? Is there scarcity with only a few time slots available for service? Speak to that innate fear of missing something amazing and you’ll reach those who want your business more than those who need it.

We’re a society of wants … and we need them met. Market appropriately to demonstrate wants and needs, and wanted success awaits you.