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Core Marketing Concepts

To understand the marketing function, we need to understand the following core set of concepts.

Needs, Wants, and Demands

Needs are the basic human requirements such as for air, food, water, clothing, and shelter. Humans also have strong needs for recreation, education, and entertainment. These needs become wants when directed to specific objects that might satisfy the need. A U.S. consumer needs food but may want a Chicago-style “deep-dish” pizza and a craft beer. A person in Afghanistan needs food but may want rice, lamb, and carrots. Our wants are shaped by our society. Demands are wants for specific products backed by an ability to pay. Many people want a Mercedes; only a few can buy one. Companies must measure not only how many people want their product, but also how many are willing and able to buy it.

These distinctions shed light on the criticism that “marketers get people to buy things they don’t want” Marketers do not create needs: Needs pre-exist marketers. Marketers might promote the idea that a Mercedes satisfies a person’s need for social status. They do not, however, create the need for social status.

Some customers have needs of which they are not fully conscious or that they cannot articulate. What does the customer mean in asking for a “powerful” lawn mower or a “peaceful” hotel? We can distinguish five types of needs:

  • 1. Stated needs (The customer wants an inexpensive car.)
  • 2. Real needs (The customer wants a car whose operating cost, not initial price, is low.)
  • 3. Unstated needs (The customer expects good service from the dealer.)
  • 4. Delight needs (The customer would like the dealer to include an onboard GPS system.)
  • 5. Secret needs (The customer wants friends to see him or her as a savvy consumer.)

Responding only to the stated need may shortchange the customer.12 Consumers did not know much about tablet computers when they were first introduced, but Apple worked hard to shape consumer perceptions of them. To gain an edge, companies must help customers learn what they want.

 
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