Customer Needs

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Table of contents

    -Seth Godin

    When your mind wanders off throughout the day, do your passing thoughts take the form of random products or events? Various feelings motivate us to eat, play, and consume, from candy and fried chicken to games and activities. Some of these whims are attached to biological needs, while others may hit a particular feeling we don't even realise. All of these make up our needs as humans, and these needs are satisfied by markets. Read this explanation to learn more about customer needs and some insight into your own customer needs that brought you here.

    Customer Needs Definition

    A customer need is a state of felt deprivation, meaning lacking or seeking a desired outcome or feeling. Various customer needs exist, from physical needs of food, shelter, and safety. Social needs such as affection, attention, self-expression, knowledge, and admiration are all powerful motivators of human behaviour. The market is not the origin of needs but a social solution to satisfy as many needs as possible.

    A customer need is defined as a state of felt deprivation, meaning lacking or seeking a desired outcome or feeling.

    Our feeling of need comes from basic human biology; however, our cumulative experiences shape how we view the world. Our needs are given form by culture and personality, at which point they become wants. Wants are the individually styled means of satisfying needs.

    Wants are the individually styled means of satisfying needs.

    Humans have needs that they feel within themselves; these take the form of wants through culture. We innately assign value to the satisfaction of our wants, which motivates us to compensate those who satisfied them, at which point wants becomes a demand. Demand is human wants being supported by the willingness to pay, compensate and exchange value to receive satisfaction.

    Demand is human wants backed by the willingness to pay, compensate and exchange value to receive satisfaction.

    Customer Needs and Expectations

    Many conscious and subconscious forces drive a customer's needs. How the customers believe these needs will be satisfied is based on their expectations. Customer needs can be divided into three main categories, physical, social, and emotional.

    Physical needs are biological necessities for our livelihood, including food, clothing, warmth, and safety. Products that satisfy physical needs have consistent demand, regardless of price. These are biological functions that everyone needs to satisfy, which are made more accessible through markets.Operating in a physical need market provides unique benefits and challenges. For starters, you typically don't have to convince customers to buy as, to some degree, they have no choice. Some of these markets, like housing, are part of modern political debates on whether they are better served through the private or public market structure.

    Social needs are feelings of belonging and affection from people around us. A scenario that fits this need directly is charitable contributions, allowing the donor to impact others positively.

    Another way social needs are satisfied is through events and activities that bring people together, such as sports, games, shared interests, hobbies, fandoms, etc. For example, by purchasing items with a team logo or recognisable design, individuals can feel part of a group with the same passions. This is an essential feeling to humans, as our brains are wired to crave social acceptance for survival.

    Customers Needs, Team of workers in orange uniform with orange helmets celebrating, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Team of workers celebrates success, Wikimedia Commons

    Emotional needs are when goods and services make us experience a wide range of feelings. Humans love to feel these feelings, from happiness to sadness, excitement, and fear. For example, we can observe products designed for these feelings through roller coasters that combine excitement and fear.

    Considering customers' expectations can help marketers design goods and services to satisfy powerful emotional motivators. Part of human nature is to think of social opinions, which savvy marketers can capitalise on to make their products more appealing. How often have you caught yourself buying something because the package was an interesting colour or thought it might make you look cool to others?

    A common advertisement in the United States is the St Jude's hospital advertisements2 , a large portion of viewers will know about the foundation because the intense emotional impact of their ads leaves a lasting impression.

    The St Judes foundation advertisements feature real patients and families as they share their stories. St Judes treats children with severe health issues and promises that families will not be charged for their treatment. The adverts feature children with serious illnesses, like cancer, in hospital beds, eliciting strong emotions (the images from the commercial bring tears to my eyes as I think about it).

    These advertisements that display people, or similar ads featuring animals in need, trigger a strong emotional urge in viewers to do all they can to help. Humans will feel a desire to assist those in pain or struggling if they are aware and have a means of assisting. The St Jude's advertisements do this by listing a call line and website for charitable donations that benefit the victims of severe illnesses. It is a two-part process, first creating the desire of wanting to help those that are struggling, then providing viewers with a way that feels like they are actually making a difference in someone's life. While it's hard to quantify, most humans have a need to feel like they are helping others and gain fulfillment from doing so, and charities like these provide an opportunity to satisfy such needs.

    Importance of Understanding Customers’ Needs and Wants

    Customers buy products because they require the utility or function it provides; however, many other elements influence consumers to buy.

    A crucial feature for many consumers is convenience - the product completes the required task without unnecessary effort from the purchaser. Other things can play into convenience, such as the quantity of product per package or how easy the product is to store.

    Another element of meeting customers' needs is giving consumers control and options. While there may be scenarios where customers prefer the simplicity of use, being able to control the application of a product can make it easier to fit into a customer's life. Consider how lawnmowers have various speeds and height adjustments that let users decide how to use the product. Like control, consumers love options; maybe the original version isn't sturdy enough or think of food with too much sugar. It's very likely that on the shelf next to the original product is an alternate form, flavour, style, etc.

    Savvy marketers that ask, analyse, and solve customers' needs can provide the best solution to their problems. When businesses address all necessary customer wants, customers will be willing to pay a higher price for the product.

    Customer Needs Examples

    Let's now take a look at some examples that illustrate customer needs. Consider needs and wants in the following example:

    There are many underlying reasons for any action we take, so why did you, the reader, choose to study?

    Does acquiring knowledge satisfy boredom, or does it make you feel powerful to understand more of the world? Perhaps you are worried about grades, and you came here to reduce test anxiety.

    Or maybe you aren't reading this for you, but to satisfy a pushy parent making you study more than you want to. Or is this material just another stepping stone toward your dream life, and by reading this, you feel the satisfaction of getting closer to your goals?

    Nevertheless, all of these needs somewhat coincide; thus, StudySmarter recognises that these needs can be satisfied better. So I write this to provide you with some customer value, so I can, in turn, fulfil my needs by using my wage to buy a gaming computer.

    This 4th wall-breaking example demonstrates how customers' needs come in many shapes and forms. Every customer extracts joy, utility, and value from different product segments.

    How much time do you think manufacturers spend thinking about consumer needs?

    Well, quite a lot at the Bic pen headquarters1. Part of how humans take in the world is through touch. If you are like me, you've chewed or nibbled off pieces of a pen cap while listening to your teacher's lecture or when bored at home studying. Did you know that Bic actually designed their pens with this in mind? Perhaps by chewing on their pens during product design meetings, they have added holes in the cap to allow customers to breathe if accidentally swallowed.

    Part of the customer experience with your product is what outcomes your product can cause outside of its intended use. Product design requires a lot of scenario testing, whether it's thoughtful ways your product can help other parts of people's lives or necessary diligence to avoid lawsuits.

    Customer Needs Analysis

    Marketers can explore customer needs through consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour studies their values, preferences, and choices.

    To learn more, check out our explanation of Consumer Behaviour.

    Ever wonder what motivates people to go skydiving? How does an activity like that even come into existence? Understanding the range of human emotions can help explain the actions of people in their pursuit of feeling meaningful experiences.

    Consider this image below. A Plutchik wheel can give insight into emotions and how customers seek experiences that provide specific emotions. Each petal is an emotional category, and these emotions can mix as well.

    Customers needs, Putchik wheel emotion spectrum, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Plutchik wheel emotion spectrum, Wikimedia commons

    Looking at the image above in Figure 2, where would our earlier skydiving example fall? Terror and amazement are primary emotions involved with such an activity. It is interesting to consider that humans would pay money to experience terror; however, it's widespread at amusement parks and haunted houses. This is because terror can be a necessary piece to feeling awe - a strong, positive feeling humans can experience.

    A product can have a function completely devoid of emotion, but marketers can still benefit from adding emotional elements to the product. Consider how many tool, poster, backpack, and vehicle manufacturers design their products around national symbols such as a country's flag. This symbol can invoke many feelings, from camaraderie with others to pride and joy at life in that country.

    Customers Needs - Key takeaways

    • A customer need is a state of felt deprivation, meaning lacking or seeking a desired outcome or feeling.
    • Wants are the individually styled means of satisfying needs.
    • Demand is human wants backed by the willingness to pay, compensate and exchange value to receive satisfaction.
    • Customer needs can be satisfied more effectively by providing specific qualities such as convenience, control and options.
    • Marketers can sell emotions to consumers or add emotion to a functional product to make it more personalised for their customers.

    References

    1. https://www.sciencealert.com/the-reason-for-holes-on-the-tops-of-pen-caps-is-surprisingly-awesome
    2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/12/04/13-examples-of-effective-emotional-marketing-and-what-your-business-can-learn-from-them/?sh=5aa3136c303b
    Frequently Asked Questions about Customer Needs

    What are examples of customer needs?

    A customer need is anything a human would want in their daily life, whether it's entertainment, food, water or shelter.

    What are the three ways to conduct customer needs analysis?

    Customer needs can be analyzed through various market research methods such as surveying, interviewing, and focus groups.

    How do you determine customer needs and wants?

    You don't, at least you shouldn't. You should identify their needs and wants by surveying them on what it is they struggle with or wish was better or easier.

    How do you meet customer needs and expectations?

    The key to meeting a customer's needs and expectations is to immerse yourself in their issue, and then determine what the best solution is.

    What are customer needs?

    Customer needs are feelings or desires people have that are satisfied through the market.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    A customer _______ is defined as a state of felt deprivation, ______ are the individually styled means of satisfying needs.  ______ are human wants backed by the willingness to pay.

    As a marketer, it's important not only to consider how a customer uses a product but also what other uses the product might be associated with.

    Customers prefer products that aren't a burden when not being used, what describes that need?

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    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Customer Needs Teachers

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