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Understanding the marketing strategy of selling needs over products


How often have you found yourself encountering an advertisement and thinking, “Yes, I absolutely need this!”? Have you ever wondered what drives this compelling urge? It’s a clever marketing strategy initiated by the brand to make you believe that you NEED a certain product. But is it a genuine requirement or are we just too amazed by the notion that creates this desire?

While marketing is all about highlighting one’s products and services, it’s also about marketing a need to the customers they did not know they had. It’s about creating a need. Surprised? Well, don’t be, because this concept is far from new. The strategy of generating a need to promote a product has been in existence for decades by digital marketing agencies. Let’s understand all about it!

How do you create a need?

Well, creating a need is not that complicated. In fact, it revolves around understanding human psychology and effectively targeting a specific audience. Don’t own a washing machine? Here’s why you need one! Don’t celebrate anniversaries? Here’s why you should! Don’t have an expensive mobile? Here’s why you need to spend all your life’s savings on this particular phone! So, you see, it’s all about making you believe that you truly require the product. So, you might not actually want something but creative agencies will present it in such a way that it will make you want it. Still don’t believe us? Let us enlighten you with a few examples.

Diamonds are forever

Ever heard of this phrase? We are sure you did, we all have. Diamonds are the classic example of how products you don’t really need can be made to feel like a desirable thing of interest! What comes to your mind when you hear the question, “Will you marry me?” Could be yes or no depending on who’s asking but also DIAMONDS, right? That’s the power of skilful marketing. 

In the late 19th century when massive diamond mines were discovered, a company named De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd with the help of an integrated marketing agency fired the notion that diamonds are rare and exclusive, which is why you need them! However, the truth is that diamonds are neither scarce nor exclusive, and their exorbitant price tags are not inherently justified. These so-called “precious stones” are abundantly available, but it’s the concept of their rarity that continues to sell itself.

Just Do It

And you just did. In fact, we all fell for this “just do it” idea from the renowned sports footwear and apparel brand, Nike. What Nike has masterfully executed since its inception is known as “Benefits-Based Marketing,” a strategy that doesn’t merely sell a product but the benefits that come from buying their product. A benefit can be a newly launched feature or multiple features of any product. With Nike, it’s always been to make the consumer better in its athletic ability. It’s basically about advertising the idea of “why the product” rather than “what is the product”. So, every time you use a Nike product, it gives you that unsaid satisfaction of winning despite all odds. 

The Complete Man

It was in the early 90s when the “idea” of gender roles began to change in India, and that was the time when Raymond introduced their revolutionary marketing campaign, Raymond – The Complete Man. This campaign challenged the conventional perception of a man. According to this campaign, a man is more than just a provider, he is empathetic, caring, affectionate, and in sort embodies all the qualities that define a human being. They effectively leveraged the idea that real masculinity is not defined by physical traits but by the qualities that make them truly human.

Now that we have introduced this age-old lesser-talked-about concept of selling the need and not the product by brands, what do you have to say? We suggest you take a tour around your home and see what are the things that you thought you needed but aren’t really what you truly required.