Needs are basic human requirements. People need food, water, clothing, shelter, education, entertainment. People are driven by different needs at different times. Abraham Maslow’s sought to explain this in his “Hierarchy of Needs”. He explained that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy from the most pressing to the least pressing. In order of importance are: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, Esteem needs and Self actualization needs. People try to satisfy their physiological needs first, when these needs are secure, they will then try to satisfy safety needs. As each level of need is secured, people move on to the next level of need. A person, who is at level 4- esteem needs, has secured his earlier physiological safety and social needs. This person will however still feel hungry and thirsty, but because his basic levels of needs are secure his basic physiological needs, when hungry will be satisfied with a very basic meal.
It is important to remember that the needs described are generalizations. There are number of safety, social and self esteem needs.
Needs when directed at very specific objects become wants: a person, s wants are determined to a large extent by which level of need a person is at, in the hierarchy of needs. A person at level 4 may want a four source meal to satisfy his hunger needs, however a person at level 2 would want only a very basic meal without being very particular about taste, nutrition etc. a person’s wants are also shaped by the culture, societal attitudes, family influences, values and beliefs and the entire macro environment, even companies can influence or shape customer’s wants.
Marketers are frequently accused of “creating needs” by using very creative advertising, or that they get people to buy products they don’t need. The truth however is that needs can’t be created. Needs preexist and they are what people are driven by. Most of the times customers needs are unarticulated; because marketers uncover these unarticulated needs, it feels as though the needs have been created. However, what companies do is shape of influence wants, but by first understanding where the customer is in the hierarchy of needs.