Marketing involves research to find out what customers need or want and promotions to convey to them how your products best meet those needs. Marketers often talk about functional needs and emotional needs, as opposed to wants. In essence, companies want to find the dominant buying motivation of a customer to present the most persuasive messages.
A customer has a functional need when a product must perform a particular function or serve a purpose such as writing, driving or satisfying hunger. The buyer needs the product to improve basic daily activities or quality of life. For consumers, products such as toilet paper, food and clothes typically address functional needs. Businesses often buy to meet functional needs as well. Equipment and supplies used to conduct operations are examples.
When addressing a buyer with a functional need, it is important to illustrate how your brand best matches the buyer's situation. If a car buyer needs a vehicle that provides safety and reliability to transport a family, for instance, advertising and sales messages should emphasize how particular makes and models have advanced safety features and perform well on crash test ratings. Business buyers often want to see a cost-benefit analysis. This is a tool used to quantify potential savings or increased revenue or value experienced by purchasing and using a product.
Wants, or emotional needs, are desires or cravings that consumers experience. Joy, relief, security, adventure and comfort are among the common emotions that drive buying decisions. A parent may take his family to an adventure or theme park for a day. The family will likely leave without anything tangible beyond souvenirs or game prizes. However, the joy of the experience and family bonding are key benefits sought. In some cases, buyers may actually purchase a product based on functional need but buy a higher-end version because of additional emotional needs. Clothes serve a functional need, but designer brand fashions also provide emotional benefits to fashion-conscious buyers.
Emotional pulls can carry significant weight in buying decisions, especially when a buyer is seeking to address a want or desire. Marketers invest significantly in research and promotion to understand the emotions buyers experience and to communicate benefits that appeal to customers. Fear, anxiety, sensuality and excitement are among the emotions advertisers play off of in advertising. Alarm system providers may, for instance, demonstrate the potential for burglary and danger without the product.