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CB/U2 Topic 5 Consumer Needs & Motivation: Needs, Wants & Motives

Needs, Goals and Motives:

Motivation can also be described as the driving force within individuals that impels them to action. As shown in the figure 3.2, this driving force is the result of tension, which in turn is because of unfulfilled needs. To reduce tension, every individual strives for fulfilling their needs. This basi­cally, depends on each individual how they fulfill their needs i.e. individual thinking and learning (experiences). Therefore, marketers try to influence the consumer’s cognitive processes.

Needs:

Every individual has needs, they are innate and acquired. Innate needs are also called physiological needs or primary needs which include food, water, air, shelter or sex, etc. Acquired needs are those needs that we learn from our surroundings / environment or culture. These may include need for power, for affection, for prestige, etc. These are psychological in nature; therefore they are also called as secondary needs.

Goals:

Goals are the end result of motivated behaviour. As in the above diagram (3.2) every individual’s behaviour is goal-oriented.

From marketer point of view, there are four types of goals:

(a) Generic goals

General classes of goals that consumers select to fulfill their needs. For example, need for washing hands.

(b) Product specific goals

For washing hands what kind of product is used. For example, use soap, liquids etc.

(c) Brand specific goals

For example, which soap – Lux, Pears etc., to be purchased.

(d) Store specific goals

From where that product must be purchased.

Goal Selection

The goals selected by individuals depend on their personal experiences, physi­cal capacity, goal’s accessibility in the physical and social environment and above all the individual’s cultural norms and values. For example, if a person has a strong hunger need, his/her goal will depend on what is available at that moment, in which country he is i.e., if in India cannot eat steak, as it is against his values and beliefs. He will have to select a substitute goal which is more appropriate to the social environment.

An individual’s own perception of his/her also influence the selection of the goal. The products a person owns, would like to own, or would not like to own are often perceived in terms of how closely they are congruent with the person’s self image. It is seen that usually that product is selected by an individual which has a greater possibility of being selected than one that is not.

Needs and goals are interdependent, existence of one is impossible without the other. For example, sometimes people join a club but is not consciously aware of his social needs, a woman may not be aware of her achievement needs but may strive to have the most successful boutique in town. One reason for this can be that individuals are more aware of their physiological needs than they are of their psychological needs.

Motives

Consumer researchers have given two types of motives-rational motives and irrational (emotional) motives. They say, that consumers behave rationally when they consider all alternatives and choose those that give them the greatest utility. This is also known as economic man theory.

Marketers meaning of rationality is when consumers select goals based on totally objective criteria such as size, weight or price, etc. Emotional motives imply the selection of goals according to personal or subjective criteria. For example, desire for status, individuality, fear of owning the product (from society), pride, affection, etc.

It is assumed that consumers always attempt to select alternatives that in their view, serve to maximize satisfaction. The measurement of satisfaction is a very personal process, based on the individual’s own needs structure as well as on past behavioural and social experiences.

It is seen that what may appear irrational to others may be perfectly rational in consumer’s opinion. For example, if an individual purchases a product to enhance self-image and considers this to be a rational decision and if behaviour does not appear rational to the person at the time of purchasing then he would have not purchased. Therefore, it is very difficult to distinguish between rational and emotional consumption motives.

Can Needs be Created?

This is a very ancient question about marketing and motivational research can help us provide an answer to it. Like the products ‘Hit’ spray for cockroaches and ‘Hit’ for mosquitoes. The consumers decided for themselves that the psychological satisfaction obtained from using the cockroach spray was more important to them than the need for a cleaner and more efficient product.

People say that needs are created for them by the marketer through subliminal method. To some extent one can influence the consumer through subliminal percep­tion; the effects are probably not very great or very specific. So, there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone can create a need in a consumer. Marketers and advertisers can only try to stimulate an existing need or can channel consumers need in a certain direction towards one product or brand rather than another, but the results are unpredictable.

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