This is a little bit confusing. Does ‘Marketing shapes consumer needs and wants’, because nowadays, people have learns how to ‘grow’ the needs and wants of human; or ‘Marketing merely reflects the needs and wants’? Which is mean, the companies always produce the products based on what people needs and wants.
Here is the simple explanation. Marketing create needs and wants means when the product drives and determine the needs and wants of consumer. It’s like when the product is in the market the marketers make the product as their needs and wants. Sometimes the product is something new and people never think before. The company use heavy pull and push strategy in shape the needs and wants.
While marketing merely reflects the needs and wants of consumers means the marketers just make the product that peoples need and want, and don’t push or force the consumer to buy their product, because it is something they need and want.
I have analyzed it one by one, doing some research, trying to understand what marketing really is, and think about some arguments that explain both statements, marketing create or satisfy needs and wants.
Nowadays, technology rapidly developed and marketers have learns how to make the product become the consumers needs and wants. They plant some thoughts in consumers mind that point them to need then buy their product. There are many ways to create needs and wants. Through marketing communication mix, such as advertisements. They try to stimulate human thoughts by using attractive color, sound, and words.
For example, when consumer saw the discounts products from the advertisement and buy it even they originally don’t need the product. Maybe they never think that they need or want the product, but marketers did it. They make consumers think that they need it.
Another example, when someone who have a mobile phone that the factory didn’t produce anymore, the mobile phone and the battery are out of sale. One day the battery is out of order, and there is no other way except to throw the useless mobile phone and because he needs the mobile communication tool, he had to buy the new one.
Companies in this present day know how to get the demand of their product as the result of making them need and want. Like most of the advertisement or the other marketing communication mix, the company use famous people, or celebrities to create need and want. The Samsung Corby TV commercial in South Korea uses 2PM, one of the famous boy bands. Besides TV commercial, Samsung Corby has publicly appeared in one of famous Korean Drama and spontaneously boosts their sales. This creates the need of their fans then as a result they buy the product. Because they think they will have the same thing with their favorite celebrity.
Shape the consumer needs also can be because of awards. One of the largest retail stores, Hypermart, uses this way to increase the needs of their costumer. In this case, they shape the needs to get more profit from the potential buyers. Hypermart, automatically, has made their costumers, even they generally don’t really need or don’t need to buy the products on their retail store, but because of the awards, or for getting the awards that they would get if they frequently buy in large amount, they would make purchase in Hypermart.
Whosoever marketers that can use marketing tools perfectly and effectively could create and shape needs and wants of consumer. That’s why marketers learned how to communicate, and the rapid technology development occur is as the result of creating something new and people never think before, creating and shape needs and wants. I mean, in 1800 era, who ever thought that they need a mobile phone or internet.
In other side, there is a thought that marketing merely reflect the needs and wants of consumer. As the consumers, everyone wish their needs and wants to be fulfilled. In this case, assumed that all of the consumers have knows their needs. Consider the theory of Abraham Maslow. He sought to explain why people are driven by particular needs at particular times. His answer is that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy from most to least pressing – physiological needs (food, water, shelter), safety needs (security, protection), social needs (sense of belonging, love), esteem needs (self-esteem, recognition, status), and self-actualization needs (self-development, and realization). People will try to satisfy their most important needs first. Then they will try to satisfy their next needs that are more important.
I think whether marketing create or satisfy needs is depends on the company’s mission and strategy. For architect companies who help people to make design of buildings, they apply the ‘marketing merely reflects the needs’. They have to do as the order. And for software companies, they sometimes create product that shapes consumer needs. Microsoft often made upgrades that require the user to buy their new product or new upgrade because the old product doesn’t fit to the new upgrade. So, I can say that marketing does both. It creates and also satisfies people’s needs. But, I tried to take position which is I think that marketing tend to satisfy the needs and wants of consumer. I have some various reasons for my opinion.
First I tried to understand what marketing really is. From some sources, I can put two and two together and take conclusion that marketing is the process where company identify and meeting the needs and wants of human, and give them value proposition, means they give the customers a set of benefit. It’s also means to create and managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.
“Meeting needs profitably”, means the company would be profitable if they create the product that customers need and want. That means satisfying the customers. Consumers are willing to buy as the result of their needs and wants. They don’t want to buy the product they don’t need and want, which mean there is no sales and company don’t get profit at all. I’m pretty sure there’s no company want that happen.
Needs, wants, demands are the core marketing concept. Needs is the basic human requirements, and when it’s directed to the specific objects, it known as wants. Then when they have the ability to pay, that’s demands. All the product that company produce should be meet the needs and wants. That’s why we learn to segment the market and that’s why all of the companies search for the valuable market segments.
Whatever marketers do to promote their product, by advertisements, direct marketing, and others, are to tells the consumers that the product they need are exist and available. Also to inform, persuade, and remind consumers-directly or indirectly-about the product they sell or offer. Considering there are many companies that sell same product in different place, variation, quality, quantity, and price. When product is in introduction period, marketers doing the heavy promotion to introduce the new product. It’s the tight stage of the product. Then in the growth stage marketer start to place the product in the new market segments and shift from product-awareness advertising to product-preference advertising. Somewhere in the product life cycle marketer use advertisement that offers a reason to buy, and use sales promotion that offers an incentive to buy, such as coupons, samples, prices off.
As we know, the market has some segment, there are groups that share the same needs and wants, or they have the different needs and wants. Some researchers try to define segments by looking at descriptive characteristics: geographic, demographic, and psychographic.
The need and want people have is different in every country. People in Indonesia that doesn’t have winter doesn’t need a fireplace or shovels, while in Canada those kind of stuff is very important, and they need it when winter comes. Also Americans, their basic needs, their physiological needs are hamburger, bread, heater in their buildings, while Malaysian needs rice, and don’t need heater. That’s the example how the geographic effects the human needs and wants.
One characteristic that easy to measure by the marketers is demographic segmentation. It’s like differentiate people to its gender, age, family, education, occupation, religion, income, social class, generation, race, and nationality. The babies have the different milk with the adults and the elder, the low-income people don’t need to buy expensive mobile phones; they just go with the cheap one, with the same function.
Also there is segmentation when the marketers divide buyers into groups on the basis of their knowledge of, attitude toward, use of, or response to a product. This is called behavioral segmentation. There are behavioral variables that many marketers believe as the best starting points for constructing market segment: occasions, benefits, user status, usage rate, buyer-readiness stage, loyalty status, and attitude.
Let’s recall again about the Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the five needs of human. When people have fulfilled their first need, then people will go to satisfy their more-important need. What I want to say here is, intrinsically, we all know what is our need and want, and just when and how we would aware that we need and want is very depending on various situations. In other explanation, things like psychological life-cycle stages may matter. Adults experience certain passages or transformations as they go through life. The behavior people exhibit changes with the times. I can say that human needs and wants are already become the part of mind, it’s in peoples’ sub consciousness. So, when the company produces their product, before that, they must have their research to find out what people needs and wants, eventhough, understanding customer needs and wants is not always that simple. Sometimes it’s quite hard and burn a hole in company’s pocket (high cost). The other people could be doesn’t need a personal computer when it come out in television commercial, but may be the other – could be in different time or place – need that personal computer. Once again I say that’s why we learn marketing.
Some customers have needs of which they are not fully aware, or they cannot articulate that needs, or they use words that require some interpretation. The marketer must probe further. The five needs that the marketers have to know and probe is: stated needs, real needs, unstated needs (the expected needs that the customers sometimes don’t say it), delight needs (when customers get more from they expected), and secret needs. Many experienced marketers try to know what customers’ secret need is, with many ways and methods, although it’s hard to unveil that secret needs. It’s because secret needs is what customers really need and it reflects the real purpose of the customers for needing the product. Once the company uncovers the customers’ secret needs, it would be easy for company to decide what product they will produce and how they will promote, thus the company can deliver the value right to the customers and gain the profit, and so do the customers can be satisfied and even make them loyal to the company if the company’s product and customers’ expectations continuously meet from time to time.
It is right to say that sometimes the company makes customers need and want their product after produce it and make some promotion that will stimulate them to buy. In other words, I can say that marketers shape or create the customers’ needs. But think about this, all this product: car, plane, mobile phone, mobile PC, gas stove, electric stove, LED TV, digital camera, and other product that always developed from time to time, it’s become more and more practical, simple, sophisticated; that’s all is created to satisfy the basic needs of human. The human’s need for communicated, in 13 century, people just communicate by letter, by written messages. And then as the technology is growing people started to know telegram, then after some years, telephone is created. Now, most of the people in the world are using mobile phone as their main communication tool. Just like stove that people use to make food. In the Stone Age, people used the wood from nature and flint to make fire and used it to cook. Then stove with kerosene has found, make it easier for people to make food. Now in modern era, it become more practical and more economical, people start to use gas stove or electric stove. Some company produce eco-friendly product, develop their product, and be up-to-date. That’s what company does to make people think that the product is new, with its new attribute, new size, with some addition, then the company will get more demand and become profitable. People like the new innovation.
To catch customers’ attention to the company’s product, meet their needs and wants, deliver the value, make it profitable for the organization and its stakeholders, create and managing customer relationships. That’s what marketing does. That’s why companies have their own competitive advantages, to compete with the other companies.
In the end, whether to purchase the product the company offer or not, it’s still customers decision. Customers will buy because they need and want. That’s what marketer does, and one of the purposes we learn marketing is to meet what becomes the needs and wants of our customers.