Discovering Wants–The Second Challenge for Research


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The continuum that drives consumer purchase behavior dictates first satisfying NEEDS that consumers have when purchasing from you. Successfully addressing the basics means that you can begin focusing on the consumer WANTS that is key to building long-term loyalty.

WANTS are differentiated from NEEDS in that they deliver more to the consumer than is generally expected. More, that is, than the basic essentials.

Consumers don’t NEED to be greeted when they enter a Wal-Mart. Nor do they NEED vodka that contains a hint of lemon. Or an insecticide that claims to kill flies naturally and without harsh chemicals. Or a cell phone that comes in designer colors. But market success here indicates that for many they satisfy a WANT.

Having greeters won’t get Wal-Mart far if they fail have products in stock. Absolute Citron wouldn’t make sense if consumers didn’t like the taste of regular Absolute. Raid insecticide that claims it kills without harsh chemicals would fall on deaf ears if consumers didn’t find regular Raid to be effective. And who would possible care about pastel colored Nokia phones if Nokia had a poor reputation for quality?

When conducting research it’s seductive listening to consumers talk about what they might WANT from a marketer before giving them greater loyalty. And it’s easy to be side tracked trying to satisfy those WANTS before being ready.

Consider the research that suggested the key to success in the hotel business is having quiet rooms with state of the art mattress. Or the research on new Coke that showed consumers preferred the taste of new Coke to regular Coke and would be more likely to give their loyalty to the new formula.

The lure of quiet rooms and state of the art mattresses did attract many new road warriors who experienced incompetent front desk people and ridiculously long check in lines. Coke marketing failed to realize that the nostalgia of the regular coke was a basic NEED associated with the brand that could not be successfully transferred to new Coke.

In both cases, money was wasted because the marketer failed to recognize that in order to satisfy customer WANTS, it first had to effectively address basic consumer NEEDS.

While it is essential for long term success to satisfy consumers WANTS, don’t let research push you into such areas without fully understanding if you’re ready.

Bob Kaden
The Kaden Co.
Bob Kaden is the author of Guerrilla Marketing Research and president of The Kaden Company, a marketing research consultancy that works with clients in planning and applying research to make more money. He is a frequent lecturer and trainer in the areas of creativity and marketing research processes.


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