site stats

The importance of recognizing customer Needs versus Wants

The importance of recognizing customer Needs versus Wants


By understanding the difference between a customer’s ‘wants’ versus their ‘needs’ is one of the key fundamentals to marketing and future business growth. Often what a customer ‘wants’ is diametrically opposed to what they ‘need’. As a business and marketing person, your objective is to interrupt the conversation going on in their head and to give the customer what they want. Helping them to understand what they need is also important. However, it’s not your responsibility to convince customers to get what they need. Businesses make money by satisfying their customers. Often it’s easier to sell them what they want than what they need. Clearly this is where business, marketing and sales people should primarily focus their energy.

Buying versus Selling

Most people prefer to buy something rather than have it sold to them. There is a subtle yet significant difference between the two. When people do the research then decide for themselves what they want they go out and get it, they feel like they have ‘bought’ it and feel good about the purchase. On the other hand, if if they are undecided and a salesperson convinces them to purchase something, even if they do actually need it, the customer may feel that it was ‘sold’ to them, what we would call a ‘hard sell’. It often makes them feel like the sales person has seized the power in the relationship. If you want customers to feel good and are interested in future sales, you have to give them what they want.

What About Their Needs

Sometimes what a customer wants is not what they need. As a caring person you may feel it’s your responsibility to tell them as much about the product or service. In that case the best you can do is share the information you think they need to know but allow them to make what they feel is the right decision without feeling under pressure. Sometimes the customer will agree with you, change their mind and thank you for your help. Other times they may completely disregard what you say and still pursue what they want over what you know they need. For your business sake and profitability you should be willing to sell them what they want without making them feel bad about it.

Needs versus Wants

In sales, a need is something that solves a real or imagined problem. A want, on the other hand, is simply something that would be nice to have. Often customers have no idea what they need, they simply know what they want. When you give them what they want, in the long run this enables you to build a lucrative ongoing relationship with them. One in which they feel they’re in control.

Wants are More Powerful

What the customer wants is more often a powerful motivator than what they need. This becomes clear when you take time and listen to your customer and ask them to tell you why they want what they want. Usually they have a burning desire to get what they want and simply want you to show them how they can get it. Customers tend to get more value, joy, and satisfaction from purchasing what they want versus what they need. Successful sales people understand this and know how to use it to their advantage.

Customers want to feel good and they are in control of the ‘buying’ process

Business and sales people make their living satisfying customers’ wants and needs. It becomes clear very early in their careers that the average person is usually willing to spend more on want they want than what they need. The purchase makes them feel good so price is never a barrier, as long as they can afford it and don’t go too much into debt which they regret in the future (buyers remorse)

Understanding what your customer wants and giving it to them at a price they can afford has made countless business and sales people successful. It’s a lot easier to sell people what they want than what they need.


Kent Consulting specialise in developing marketing strategies for clients. Visit or contact

About the author

Howard Kent: Kent Consulting Ireland are a Marketing & Business Growth consultancy providing Business Coaching & Mentoring to SME Business Owners


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply