What Are Consumer Needs?

by Contributing Writer; Updated September 26, 2017

The term "consumer" refers to an individual who buys goods and services for personal use. The consumer makes the decision on whether to purchase a product or not; thus the consumer is the target of marketing strategies. From an economic perspective, consumer needs control the demands for goods and services. These needs may include unique wants, wishes and desires, as well as emotional attachments towards products and services.

Background

Consumers may operate in fixed buying patterns without giving them much thought. However, they may also make adjustments in their purchasing behavior depending on their needs and other personal factors. Initial purchasing decisions may be random, but there is always some meaning beneath each decision. Discovering customer needs is the key to improving the product or service line, which can result in bigger revenue and business growth.

Benefits

New ideas and strategies for products and services surface when accurate consumer needs are obtained and analyzed. For example, a clothing company may have plans to launch a new line of clothing. To ensure success, they may want to know what type of material and design that will capture the customers’ interest. Accurate and current consumer needs will greatly help the clothing company to devise a product line and a marketing strategy that will sell. Certain improvements in other business sectors, such as customer service and phone support, can also be made through determining consumer needs. All of these adjustments and improvements will result in consumer loyalty and patronage.

Mechanism

Focus groups and customer-centered research are the companies’ primary ways to determine consumer needs, attitudes and behavior. Market researchers aim to identify the different physical and social factors that influence these needs. The results of these initiatives are used by companies to make decisions on establishing new marketing programs for products and goods or make changes in current ones.

Types

People make purchases to satisfy different kinds of needs. Abraham Maslow, in the early 1940s, created the Hierarchy of Needs theory which states that people are motivated by different levels of need. These needs include: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-fulfillment. For example, product lines, such as phones created by Nokia, have been successful because their campaign ad focuses on “connecting people.” The line itself promotes satisfying the need for belonging and love.

Other Factors

When a need is established, the choice of product or service to fully satisfy it comes after. Factors that may influence the fulfillment of such needs are trust and accessibility. If a product brand has been around for a long time or if it can be found in most stores, it has a higher chance of being purchased. Personality trait and characteristics are also factors that help determine how consumers meet their needs. The pragmatic or practical individual is likely to buy useful, cost-effective products. He prioritizes quality over visual appeal. Consumers who value aesthetics will most probably look into the exterior beauty and harmony of a product. Consumers may also base purchases on someone else’s opinion. Cultural and social values also influence consumer needs. Customers are attracted to product and services that promote increased acceptance and favor in society.