What are needs, wants & demands? Definition & Differentiation

The enterprises with effective marketing activities always spend many resources on researching needs, wants of customers, as well as demands that enterprises are trying to achieve. What is the difference between needs, wants and demands? Let’s figure out in this article.

Definition of needs in marketing

What are needs?

Needs are states of felt deprivation, psychological states when you feel in short of something required for your physical and mental welfare. Example: needs of food (food, drinks), shelter (house, apartment), cloth, love, belonging...

Everyone has different needs, depending on life circumstance, financial condition, age, gender, health condition,... Human needs will always change overtime in different locations. In order to provide a better understanding, let’s look at the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs below:

Maslow's hierachy of needs

Image author: verywell

Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can see the 5 levels of needs arranged from the lowest one to the highest one which means that human needs don't occur randomly but completely ordered, from low to high. When the lower-level needs are adequately fulfilled, a person can move on to addressing the higher-level needs.

Physiological needs a& Safety needs

Level 1 - Physiological needs: People living in harsh environments, difficult financial conditions and life always have essential needs for physiology (food, drink, clothing, shelter...)

Level 2 - Safety needs: When people’s physiological needs are satisfied, they tend to become concerned about safety needs, such as safety against accidents and injury, steady job, good health for work...

Love/Belonging needs

Level 3 - Love/Belonging needs: when both people’s physiological needs and safety needs are satisfied, love/belonging needs will occur. Example: intimacy, acceptance, receiving and giving affection...

Esteem needs & Self Actualization needs

Level 4 - Esteem needs: Needs to be respected, regarded and admired by others in society.

Level 5 - Self Actualization needs: When all of lower-level needs have been satisfied, people will tend to the highest level of hierarchy. It’s time when they want to express themselves, meaning that they want to be recognized as talented in a certain field, such as art, science, politics, business...

The Maslow's hierarchy of needs will help marketers catch up easily with the needs of customers.

Definition of wants in marketing

What are wants?

Wants are needs formed and adjusted by people's characteristics such as gender, character, cognition, health conditions... and the surroundings we live in such as politics, institutions, culture...

For example: asian women prefer motorbikes with compact soft-tone color design while men prefer ones with strong, sharp and bold-color design.

Knowing customer's needs and wants are determinate factors for the development of products to satisfy best those needs.

Definition of demands in marketing

What are demands?

Demands are needs which are able to be satisfied by the act of purchasing a product or service. In other words, demands are needs of people having enough money to purchase products or services supplied by your business.

What is the difference between needs and demands in marketing?

The difference between the needs and the demands in definition is solvency, meaning the ability to pay for a product or service. For example, i the results of a market research say 500 farmers in need of biological fertilizer, but only 400 of them have solvency (can pay to own products of a company), the number of demands is 400.

The role of needs in marketing

What role do needs play in marketing activities of businesses and organizations?

In modern marketing, the role of needs is the starting point of almost all activities, strategies, marketing plans of companies. Customer needs are always researched by companies to develop products, services properly. Besides, changes of factors in the macroenvironment causes customer needs to change overtime. A company always observes, researches target customers to capture the change of needs to make suitable actions in business.

How can a business capture the needs of their target customers?

Marketing research is the most effective method to capture the needs of target customers. Depending on the industry, the field that research activities can be done by many different methods and scales, from utilizing available data to conducting surveys.


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