Ferrari 458 Italia

Content Marketing: Necessity vs Want

Ferrari 458 Italia
Philipp Lücke / Foter / CC BY-NC

In any retail industry, marketers and advertisers can go one of two ways; market necessity or market want and desire. The two strategies can either lead to the same outcome or have drastic endings depending on the industry and product. Sears can promote a more expensive washer and dryer that goes above and beyond the call of duty, but if the average consumer only needs the basic models that cleans and dries the clothes and the price tag is within their means, they’ll pick that 9 out of 10 times. This is where businesses, informative blogs that help consumers make buying decisions, and magazines can either lose their customers or have an entire readership of clients of window shoppers who can’t buy the eye candy.

The automotive industry has this same problem, and with no help from car magazines and blogs, the dealership and consumer lose out. When you read your favorite car magazine, what are the cars they usually test drive? BMW’s, Mercedes Benz, Maserati’s, Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. While the magazine is creating eye appeal similar to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, it’s not being much help to the reader in the long run. Yes, for a moment in time they’ll be dreaming of driving that car, but there is no long-term value for the consumer, and instead of making the transition of reading to buying, they just read and dream.

I’ve always held Cars.com to a high standard as they promoted cars you can actually drive and buy, but even they fell into the trap of showing off the eye candy. It was interesting to see the features the BMW i8 comes with. But with a starting price of $135,000, how many of the thousands of readers will actually visit their local BMW dealer, test drive it, and buy it? Maybe 1-2% at best.

This has become the growing problem in the retail world since the early 2000’s. Some companies promote want over necessity. But if a majority of consumers live within their means, they’ll buy necessity products that are usually cheaper, but the number of sales will be drastically increased. It’s the same argument as going basic or premium. Most consumers will lean more towards basic models of a product more than the premium, unless they see long-term value.

In the summertime, people are more apt to buy an air conditioner with more features because they believe it will bring them more value and a cooler house. If you decide to promote want over necessity, you have to distinguish the difference in products. Unlike candy or tickets to a concert or sporting event, cars, washers and driers, air conditioners, TV’s, and laptops are products you have to live with for a while, they’re not just a one-time, one day event.

Always market value. The consumer will make the purchasing decision that best fits what they need, but if you persuade them to go premium, you have to complete the sale and be prepared for the multitude of possible questions they may ask. Long-term value is what it all comes down to, and as marketers and advertisers, you must show them that they do just that. Car salesmen try this tactic, but if the buyer sees that the basic car meets the demand and need while also giving them value, they’ll not pay extra for the car with leather and heated seats. There is no question that they want it, but do they need it? When it comes to cars, most consumers will stick within their means, smaller items and products on the other hand that are much more affordable and don’t require monthly payments could entice the buyer to go with want over necessity.

At the end of the day, if you promote and advertise premium and want, make sure they provide the best value for the consumer. Of course, your target market will certainly decide what route you take. But if your target audience is broad with different income levels, be prepared to sell hard on both, while also making sure each individual buyer is satisfied, whether they buy necessity or want.

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