The Difference Between Wants And Needs

Although people say things like ‘I really need a coffee’ and ‘I simply must have those shoes’, clearly these items are not needs.

They are shameless wants.

A need is something you can’t live without. Like shelter, which drifts further into want territory every time an episode of The Block is aired.

Or water, which is now sold as a want because it’s sourced from a mountain and comes in a bottle.

It’s rare for marketers to deal with needs because those things tend to sell themselves. We work almost exclusively in the business of wants.

This is an important distinction because knowing the difference means you can craft your sales messaging more effectively.

Instead of delivering a rational argument that highlights the logical reasons why your product is better than theirs, you can start to create want in the heart of your prospects. You can start to stimulate emotions.

The easiest way to do this is to follow the old rule that favours a benefit over a feature. It dictates that describing a loaf of bread as containing whole grains isn’t as powerful as saying it helps lower cholesterol. Or that it helps digestion and is less fattening.

For the customer, the rational thinking comes later. After the emotional buy-in has already happened and they’re on the hook. Features will help them justify their decision for sure, but in most cases it’s the heartstrings that control the purse strings.


Stevie Smiles, Creative Director

fmadmin, 2017 Focused Marketing