six things consumers need

The most effective approach to marketing involves identifying and addressing consumer needs. If you cater for consumer needs and do so better than others you cannot help but succeed. So all you have to do is understand consumer needs and then tailor your offering accordingly.

Fortunately many researchers have looked at human needs and a range of models have been developed. Further most of these models do not differentiate between consumer needs and general human needs – and neither would I and I will not do so here.
The theory that I find most compelling identifies six critical human needs, all of which I believe marketers would do well to focus on. They are not in any way related to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which has more limited value in a western world marketing context.

These needs are – the need for:
1. Certainty
2. Variety
3. Significance
4. Growth
5. Connection
6. Contribution

No matter how well we handle change, human beings want certainty. They want to know for example that your product or service will do what it says it will do. They also want the weather report each night so they can have certainty about their plans for tomorrow.

Very few people want to watch the same movie more than once if here is variety on offer. Very few people enjoy doing the same thing every day. As much as we want certainty, we also want variety.

Very few people buy a Mercedes for the German engineering. Most buy a Mercedes to feed their ego and make themselves feel and look more significance. The fact is we are all insignificant in the overall scheme of things, but we want to feel significant.
Most people want to and need to grow, even if this means growing apart from their partner – as so often happens. Most of us want to be more tomorrow that we were yesterday, or even today. That is why we like learning new things and becoming better at things.

We all, or at least most of us need to connect. That is why we go out on a Friday night and it is why we tend to hunt for and secure a partner. It also explains, at least in part the success of social media and coffee shops, although it does not explain why 30% of adult Australians now live alone.

Whilst we don’t all know it, we all like giving. Think about Christmas when you get a lot more satisfaction from giving a gift and the smile it causes than you do from receiving one. There is no such thing as philanthropy, because those who give to charity do get a return – personal satisfaction.

In my view there is a great deal of merit in:
1. Developing products and services that address these basic needs
2. Fine tuning your current product offering to ensure it better addresses these needs
3. Packaging messaging and indeed branding around one or more of these needs
4. Generally being better at addressing these needs than your competitors are.

Just a thought


This issue will be discussed in detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK –

John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing, communication, personal advancement, business development and behaviour management.

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