Why exactly do we buy what we buy? What triggers or influences someone to buy something? What’s the purpose of buying something? Do we buy something because we need it or because we want it?
There’s a long list of reasons why we buy what we buy, but there are only 2 main categories:
- We buy something because we NEED it.
- We buy something because we WANT it.
Times have definitely changed buying behavior and habits of people. With today’s technology and learnings particularly in Science, there’s now such a wide variety of products that promote supposed better health, improve physical appearance, better entertainment, more convenient, etc. plus effective advertisements, we are more inclined to buy something that we now perceive as a need rather than a want. Time has changed how we perceive and differentiate want and need.
When was the last time you bought something that you can honestly say, without bias, “I need this.”? Think again, was it really a need or just a perceived need? We are inclined to convince ourselves that a particular item is something that we need especially if that item is a popular product. We will keep on convincing ourselves by coming up with a list of reasons why we need it until we buy it.
Nowadays, mobile phones are now considered as a need and no longer a luxury item. Are people choosing to buy certain mobile phones because of the needed features or because of the features that they want? Or is it because of the popularity of the brand?
According to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, people are driven to attain certain needs. When a need is satisfied, we go on to satisfy the next, then the next, and so on.
Maslow used a pyramid to depict the different levels of the five motivational needs. The lower level needs need to be satisfied before moving to the next higher level of needs. The longer a need is not satisfied, the desire for it to be satisfied gets stronger.This process goes on until finally reaching the highest level of needs.
Below are the five motivational needs arranged from lowest to the highest level.
Level 1: Physiological Needs – like air, food, water, sleep, etc.
Level 2: Safety Needs – like security of body, resources, health, order, etc.
Level 3: Social Needs – like love, belongingness, family, friendship, romance, etc.
Level 4: Esteem Needs – like achievement, self-esteem, prestige, respect, mastery, etc.
Level 5: Self-Actualization Needs – like morality, creativity, problem solving, self-fulfillment, etc.
Looking at the different levels, it seems that these are the bases for most purchases that fall into the “NEED” category. Everything else can fall into the “WANT” category.
Do you know if your customers buy from your store because of the things that they need or want? Do you know which item they need or want? Do you think it makes sense to know?
If you know and understand what triggers customers to buy what they buy either a need or want, you increase your store’s potential to sell more. Adding up this knowledge and understanding with information on market trends and product launches, you can have a better forecast on what products your customer will need and especially want.