Demands, needs and wants of target market


A core set of concepts creates a foundation for marketing management and a holistic marketing orientation.

Needs, Wants, and Demands

The marketer must try to understand the target market’s needs, wants, and demands. Needs are the basic human requirements. People need food, air, water, clothing and shelter to survive. People also have strong needs for recreation, education and entertainment. These needs become wants when they are directed to specific objects that might satisfy the need.

An American needs food buy may want a hamburger, French fries, and a so-ft drink. A person in Mauritius needs food but may want a mango, rice, lentils, and beans. Wants are shaped by one’s society. Demands are wants for specific products backed by an ability to pay. Many people want a Mercedes; only a few are willing and able to buy one. Companies must measure not only how many people want their product but also how many would actually be willing and able to buy it.

These distinctions shed light on the frequent criticism that “marketers create needs� or “marketers get people to buy things they don’t want.� Marketers do not create needs: Needs pre-exist marketers. Marketers, along with other societal factors, influence wants. Marketers might promote the idea that a Mercedes would satisfy a person’s need for social status. They do not, however, create the need for social status.

Understanding customer needs and wants is not always simple. Some customers have needs of which they are not fully conscious, or they cannot articulate these needs, or they use words that require some interpretation. What does it mean when the customer asks for a “powerful� lawn mower, a “fast� lathe, an “attractive� bathing suit, or a “restful� hotel? Consider the customer who says he wants an “inexpensive car.� The marketer must probe further. We can distinguish among five types of needs:

1. Stated needs (the customer wants an inexpensive car)

2. Real needs (the customer wants a car whose operating cost, not its initial price, is low).

3. Unstated needs (the customer expects good service from the dealer)

4. Delight needs (the customer would like the dealer to include an onboard navigation system).

5. Secret needs (the customer wants to be seen by friends as a savvy consumer).

Responding only to the stated need may shortchange the customer. Many consumers do not know what they want in a product. Consumers did not know much about cellular phones when they were first introduced. Nokia and Ericsson fought to shape consumer perceptions of cellular phones. Consumers were in a learning mode and companies forged strategies to shape their wants. As stated by carpenter, “Simply giving customers what they want isn’t enough any more — to gain an edge companies must learn what customers want.

In the past, “responding to customer needs� meant studying customer needs and making a product that fit these needs on the average, but some of to-day’s companies instead respond to each customer’s individual needs. Dell Computer does not prepare a perfect computer for its target market. Rather, it provides product platforms on which each person customizes the features he or she desires in the computer. This is a change from a “make-and-sell� philosophy to a philosophy of “sense and respond.�

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