When in doubt, think of the consumer need

Written by: Trupti Bhandari
About the author: Global Business Leader│Ex-EVP GSK, Reckitt Benckiser, Pfizer, B&L│                              Author – “PRAGMARKETISM”Life & Executive Coach


Trupti_2This is the most important advice I can provide from my experience as a marketer and a businesswoman. The complexities of business can drag us into paralyzing debates and prevent us from looking at the final beneficiary of all our efforts – the consumer. It is not what the company can offer, what it can manufacture efficiently, what satisfies the manager’s objectives, what makes great financial sense or what the boss’s wife needs… but what the consumer needs. Sometimes, the need is explicit and sometimes it has to be mined for, uncovering the consumer’s complex motivations, while sometimes it’s ambiguous and needs to be clarified and sometimes it’s just not there and manufacturers create a need. A need has many avatars. And while success can take diverse shapes at the end, a need is a necessary and enabling condition for it. Consumer need clarifies the business’s purpose, defogging the glasses of confusion. But it can be easily forgotten.

In a different context, Gandhiji said, ‘When in doubt think of the poorest Indian… and ask yourself if it will benefit him.’ We could restate the same. Embracing Mahatma’s spirit and also keeping business as the focal point, here’s the mantra ‘Whenever you are in doubt, apply the following test. Recall the face of the consumer whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her. Will he/she gain anything by it? Will it restore him/her to a control over his/her own life and destiny? Then you will find your doubts and your “strategic dilemma” melt away.’ Consumer Centricity, with need and want as the fulcrum, ought to be an obsession for all marketers. Indeed, this is the way out of many strategic dilemmas that all corporate routinely confront.

From Need to Want

How do you convert a need into a pressing want? One way is to list its benefits. Another is to give an emotional benefit so compelling that the mind sees no alternative. It is a bit like choosing your friend or relationship over anything else; the heart, and not the mind, must and will steal the show. Needs are, therefore, inextricably linked to our emotions. The word ‘emotion’ originates from the Latin word ‘movere’, combining the word ‘move’ and the French word ‘emouvoir’, meaning ‘move out’ or excite. If a want tells us what is lacking, an emotion tells us what has ‘moved’ into our being as a result of it. An emotion is the catalyst that converts a dormant need into a throbbing want. Marketers try their best to find veritable emotional needs, and rightfully so, because if no movement is achieved, the potential captured in the need is not met. So, a Hush Puppies shoe is not just valued for its lightness and comfort but also because it helps me work harder so I can be more successful, which positively impacts my self-image and eventually determines if my life has been worth living at all. The moral of the story – do well and put your best foot forward while wearing Hush Puppies. Seems implausible? Well, big brands do just that – they partner with the consumers, converting dreams into reality. And the brands are with them wherever it matters so their consumers are foremost for them. Consumers then reward them by making that brand the first choice when a need in that category arises.

For further insights on New-age marketing and evolving consumer understanding, pls refer to my book – “PRAGMARKETISM”– pragmatic marketing insights for winning Indian consumers (upcoming release by Harper Collins) 

One thought on “When in doubt, think of the consumer need

  1. Very good insights on consumers can be obtained from “Small Data” by Martin Lindstorm. Small observations on consumer behavior can give us a lot of information on what triggers a person to make a decision

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