Pull is determined by Wants and Needs and they are different

‘Consumers don’t know what they want.’ Steve Jobs famous quote. And he’s right. That does not mean it’s not your job to know what they do.  And knowing what they want is hard work. It’s more than research, it’s an art.

Why did Steve get away with ignoring market research tools? Simple – because he was his own ultimate end user. He represented the future end user of Apple. And he was. If he would not like it or need it, it would not happen.

Steve believed that technology must add something to his life and not be about the technology. He wanted support for creatives- visually appealing with intuitive visual interfaces.

So that’s great if you are in that position, but most marketers, developers and leaders are in the marketing paradox. Most of the time you make things for people that are pretty different than you. I’ve met men working on lady sanatory’s at Procter and women on Johnny Walker. In that case you need to work for it.

I compare it to raising my children. I need to provide them with what they need and want. They often have no idea, it’s my job to know. And that’s no Q&A at table in a research centre done by some one else with me behind a one sided mirror drinking coffee and making notes.  No that’s me interacting with my kids everyday, observing them, listening to them, hearing them. Watch them interact with others, listen to their teachers, football coach. Discussing them with my wife, grandparents, friends and brothers and sisters. Or reading books about parenting,

It’s full immersion and those with kids know what I mean. Getting to know your end-user is no different. Don’t ask them a few questions but get to know them better then they know themselves. That is your job. But here’s the crux that is often overseen. It’s not just what they want. It’s also what they need.

Just as with parenting it’s key to separate two things – what they need and what they want. They are different.

Want is desire and makes them act now. This is what you pay for today. Nog iets over “instant satisfaction” toevoegen?  It drives short term commercial success.

Need drives deeper value and is longer term. This is what you will be grateful for at a later stage and drives the longer term success of the organization.

As a parent you are responsible for both.

Let’s go back to kids.

Dead in the water – If you give kids something they don’t need or want then you’ve completely missed the mark. I remember a few mis-buys at birthdays that still colour upp my cheeks

Spoiled – if you give kids what they want, and just that, you can see where that will end. There is little value in raising spoiled children.

Kids will run for what they want – “Clean up your room and you’ll be rewarded with chocolate” they will do just that. Reward them with broccoli and you will be tidying up the nursery yourself. Consumers are the same. They will pay for what they want, it’s mush harder to get them to pay for what they need but don’t want.

Spartan – if you just give them what they need  things will become a bit bleak at home.  You have to feel sorry for kids that only get purely what is good for them.  With consumers it’s the same. They might need something and buy it, but if something comes along that has a little more desire you will switch, simply because we like to enjoy ourselves.

Full Pull – The ultimate challenge is to give them what they need in such a way that they want it. That’s hard work but gives the highest results. Now and in the future. This is your job and responsibility as a parent. The same goes for your customers.

This translates to your commercial success.

If you make things people don’t need or want you won’t sell much.

If you make things that they don’t need but do want then over time your relationship

with your customer hollows out and you keep pushing them to buy you.

If you only offer what they need then you’ll do a lot of convincing or preaching to get them to buy your products. This might not feel of great taste, but it’s really good for you. We all know that these are the mass consumer groups.

Those companies who offer you a thing you really want and need are the fastest growers. Just think of Testla cars. A great looking car, great experience and easy on our planet. It’s no coincidence that Testla is now 60% of GM’s capital value, while GM sold 400 times more cars last year.

Full Pull propositions offer both and have the future. To get there you’ll need to dive into the lives of your end-user like you would do for kids. For those who are not in the position Steve Jobs was – it’s more than research. It’s an art to uncover the future needs and wants of your potential end-users.

Not easy but definitely rewarding. It’s truly grateful to see your children happy, in the knowledge of what’s making them happy is also really good for them. With your consumers it is not that different….