MARKETERS GET PEOPLE TO BUY THINGS THEY DO NOT WANT OR NEED In economics, a want is something desired having to do with, distinct from a need. It`s said that people have unlimited wants, but limited supplied resources. Thus, people can`t have everything they want and must look for the best alternatives sometimes that will cost them less. People usually carry the tendency to have a strong desire to obtain something. This desire, known as “want” has been established since the beginning of life. (1)
To most psychologists, a need is a psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a goal and the reason for the action, giving purpose and direction to behavior. The most widely known academic model of needs was proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow. In his theory, he proposed that people have a hierarchy of psychological needs, whicvh range from security to self-actualization. (2) In most business schools the classical marketing definition is “to connect costumers with products”. And usually nobody is talking about manipulation, playing on consumer emotions or even lying.
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But to connect consumer with a product is not an easy thing to do, especially if one is not aware that such product exists, or one has not thought about having the product. And this is where a marketer`s job comes in. It is not only important to meet costumers` needs, it is essential to show the customers that such a need exists. To show the benefits one could get combined with a physical and emotional satisfaction. Howard Schultz, Starbucks Coffee Chairman, has said (3): “Customers don’t always know what they want.
The decline in coffee-drinking was due to the fact that most of the coffee people bought was stale and they weren’t enjoying it. Once they tasted ours and experienced what we call “the third place”… a gathering place between home and work where they were treated with respect… they found we were filling a need they didn’t know they had. ” We communicate with each other by symbolizing our thoughts through words, pictures, sounds, actions and feelings, depending on what type of person we are, which “channels” are opened. Some understand visual material much better, some prefer sounds and some people react to emotions or real activities.
A marketer can express people inner thoughts into external symbols. Geoff Ayling is talking about Memes (4): “In the context of advertising, a meme is an idea or concept that has been refined, distilled, stripped down to its bare essentials and then supper-simplified in such a way that everybody can grasp its meaning instantly and effortlessly. ” Richard Dawkins has coined the term “meme”, and G. Ayling in his book is showing that meme has the ability to enter the mind without our conscious awareness, and plant a thought in there.
According to lots of successful marketers, the ultimate goal of advertising is to create a shift in consumer`s attitude and behavior. A meme is a simple, yet powerful way to create this shift, to change our perception and to make us look at a symbol and see a larger concept in there. G. Ayling points out fifty reasons of why people buy (4). Reasons like “to feel safe; to feel accepted; to protect their family; to become more fit and healthy; to feel younger; to leave a legacy” and many more are mentioned, and many of those are in some way or even directly connected to Maslow`s hierarchy of needs.
People have certain needs and it doesn`t matter whether they are aware of it or not, because marketers have tools to “help” people to realize, to see and to feel the need or a problem. Basic feeling (psychological need) such as hunger and thirst can be potent driving forces to make a purchase. Marketers can use this advertising at a time of a day when consumers are likely to be hungry and probably would pay attention to the message and remember it. The second – safety need are used very well all around, for instance, in car markets or addressing to moms of newborns.
The third need in Maslow`s hierarchy is belongingness and love. Stephen Pettitt is confident that this is about emotional security, wanting to feel accepted and valued by those closest to us. Marketers again can play on this need through the portrayal of the family in particular (5). Also fear of loneliness or personal rejection can be a powerful motivator and features strongly in many marketing campaigns. Most people want to fit in, have friends, be a part of this society, to be noticeable and to be loved and needed. Esteem needs also are reflected widely in marketing.
Most car advertising, for example, has got some kind of a message about a person driving this car and gaining respect and status. Luxury products and brand names are all about the status in our society. The fifth need in Maslow`s hierarchy is a self-actualization need. According to S. Pettitt (5) this is the most difficult stage for the marketer to handle, because it is very individual, and thus the hope is that by fulfilling the other needs discussed above, the marketers can help consumers getting closer to self-actualization.
Self-actualization may mean anything, depending on a person`s believes, desires, way of living and thinking. S. Pettitt argues that lower-order needs (psychological and safety) no longer exist for most people in nowadays. Manufactures of food products, for example, cannot hope that their products will be consumed just because they are edible. Food brands have become so many, and consumers in nowadays are looking to see how a particular product could fulfill a higher-order need, such as love or esteem. Pamela Danziger argues that consumers buy things to satisfy concrete, distinctly felt needs (6).
Many consumer marketers go a little further than this by uncovering the need, targeting it in advertising, and products get sold. But P. Danziger points out that in today`s diverse, networked marketplace where information is overloaded, it is hard to rise above the background noise of commerce with practical, needs-bases advertising. It is quite a challenge to reach a mass-consumer market where one person`s need is so different from another person`s need. And often it is a case when the need cannot be defined in conscious, rationally based criteria. It is ephemeral, based on emotions and feelings.
Psychologists agree that each of our individual needs extends so much deeper than the simple physical subsistence level. In today`s consumer-driven society, satisfying consumer need has less to do with the practical meeting of physical needs and everything to do with gratifying desires based upon emotions. P. Danziger emphasizes that the act of consuming, rather than the item being consumed, satisfies the need (6). Taking this into consideration it may be very well used in marketing. The reputation of marketers is often negative. Marketers quite often are considered to be involved with trickery, deceit, and mass consumerism.
Still while many despise marketing, great products without great marketing often don`t get to customers (7). Acceptable quality products or even really bad ones may get sold to customers due to great marketing. Seth Godin argues that marketers actually tell consumers the stories they want to hear. Godin is assured that marketers lie to consumers because consumers demand it. Marketers tell the stories and consumers believe them. Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it`s just natural to buy stuff from someone who`s telling us a story.
People can`t handle the truth (8). Marketing can make food taste better, things become more useful and so on, if we believe it is so. People often buy things not because of a need, but because of how it makes them to feel. William Bernbach, a legendary figure in the history of American advertising, has said (9): “You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in a way that people will feel in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen. ” People like and love the feeling they have during the consuming.
And all what matters is what customer believes. Emotion drives the consumer, and while it is an intangible, highly individualistic thing, it controls consumers when they shop. Tangible factors play a role in the shopping decision, but they are rarely dominant (10). Marketers and retailers cannot build a need in their customers. But they can creat a desire, which is a purely emotional response. And the marketers have much more control over the features. They can stack up all kinds of added-value benefits in products. Features very often are what make one product more attractive than another.
Features are a hot button that pushes the shopper`s buy response (10). And features operate independent from need. Affordability is one of those tangible that is at once both highly personal and easily manipulated by marketers. On e personal level everyone has a certain amount of money they can spend on things. However, most people have a range within which they can spend. They can borrow or use their credit cards. They can save spending less on some things in order to spend the money somewhere else instead. David Ogilvy, often called as The Father of Advertising, has said (11): If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think. ” Marketers may use consumers feelings, emotions, needs and hidden desires, dreams, but in any case they need to know the target audience, they have to know what it is they are selling. Marketers and retailers have much more influence on consumers` buying decisions when it comes to affordability than they do in relation to need. An item found for a cheap price, even when a need is fairly low, can push the shopper to buy.
It doesn`t matter whether a consumer needs it or not, the feeling of “I have to have this” very often is driving people to do the purchase because “it`s such a great deal”. Sales, good deals, buy 2 ??? get 1 for free, etc. , works very well and does attract consumers, and increases turnover, because people do buy impulsively and they buy things they have already got at home, they purchase and try to calm their urge of being loved and happy. It`s like people over eat in order to fill the emotional emptiness or any other psychological issues they subconsciously find difficult to deal with.
Same reason for act of purchase over and over again. The feeling of satisfaction and not the need for specific things in many cases is the main reason for shopping and ending up with full hands with things people do not actually need. That`s one way to escape stress if you like. Peter Doyle talks about the decision-making unit (12). He stresses that a communication message should be formed according to whom it is targeted to. One must remember that the buyer not always is the same as user. There are five buying roles distinguished ??? initiator, influencer, decider, buyer and user.
And a marketer should understand to whom address the message whether it`s a toy or perfume ??? who is a target consumer and who will be a purchaser. Marketing has a lot to do with psychology, intuition and careful strategic planning. It is a powerful mechanism if driven correctly. And it is asking for constant innovation in nowadays when there is such a huge competition out there in the marketplace. People like their needs and wants to be fulfilled. And in many cases people don`t mind or even don`t notice when they are being told that such needs and wants exist.
Also, marketers may change the existing believes and attitudes of consumers, but the marketers must keep changing themselves together with their consumers in order always try to be one step ahead: “The best way to create the future is to create it” Peter Drucker And even thought the topic of this discussion was about customers and why do they buy things they do not want or need, customers and marketers are always connected. One cannot live without another. One creates an existence of another. Therefore I would like to end with a few sentences I found addressed to the marketers (13): …discover a new way to look at your consumers, not as a point on a data graph, but as real, complex, irrational but strangely predictable human beings who love and fear and strive and feel pain. They are wonderful. They are frustrating. They are awe-inspiring. They are fascinating. Moreover, they are our customers. We desperately need them. And we must respect them. ” 1. www. en. wikipedia. org 2. www. en. wikipedia. org 3. www. woopidoo. com 4. GEOFF AYLING Rapid Response Advertising Business & Professional Publishing Pty Limited, 1998 5. DR. FRANCES BRASSINGTON, DR. STEPHEN PETTITT Principles of Marketing
Prentice Hall, 2006 6. PAMELA N. DANZIGER Why People Buy Things They Do Not Need Deaborn Trade Publishing A Kaplan Proffesional Company, 2004 7. www. web-strategist. com 8. SET GODIN All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. , 2005 9. www. brainyquote. com 10. PAMELA N. DANZIGER Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience Kaplan Publishing, a division of Kaplan, Inc. , 2006 11. www. brainyquote. com 12. PETER DOYLE Marketing Management and Strategy Prentice Hall, 1998 13. www. fastcompany. com