In this blog, I would like to share my thoughts about the positioning of a need and want action in relation to a customer’s personal circumstances. After conducting research into the nature of purchasing decisions, I discovered a process every buyer goes through which can be used in marketing. It is the ‘quality of life/standard of living’ test. Everyone’s test is different which creates different types of buyers, from ultra-cautious to reckless-spenders. The test is a filter mechanism put in place by our brains which creates a battle between needing and wanting. We all appear on a need/want purchasing scale, ranging from the ‘ultra-cautious penny pinchers to the ‘reckless spendaholics. The ultra-cautious find they have very few needs; just enough to get by, and therefore question every other purchase before committing to a sale, causing them to miss out on things they would gain pleasure from. The reverse can be said for the reckless-spenders; they need EVERYTHING, and need it now, leading to the misuse of credit and debt issues. The majority of us sit well within these extremes, so let’s have a look at this in more detail.
The buying of goods and services becomes reality once a person has processed a quality of life/standard of living analysis related to the purchase. Thing is, we all do this without realising it. Everything we consider buying we filter through our own individual checklist. Anything we buy is weighed up by how it immediately affects our quality of life (our well-being). Then it is cross-checked against our standard of living (our financial position).
The analysis of quality of life/standard of living identifies where customer avatars are emotionally when approaching the purchase. So, let’s look at this in a few scenarios:
An immediate need (emergency):
You fall and break your arm. In terms of need and want you DESPERATELY need medical attention. This is an extreme event affecting your quality of life, regardless of your standard of living. Or is it? Here in the UK, we have the National Health Service, so it doesn’t affect anybody’s standard of living. But what about countries without a national health service, or high insurance rates? Then actually it does affect the standard of living. The poorest in these societies suffer the most.
A necessary lifestyle choice:
There comes a point in many people’s lives when something has to change to avoid a serious impact on the quality of life. This can range from health and fitness to family issues, to personal well-being. For example, someone needs to lose a significant amount of weight. The standard of living denotes how this person could approach it. Someone who has a high-level standard of living could invest in the latest technology, courses and experts to aid their weight loss. Nutritionists, fitness instructors, and mentors could be employed. There is a higher chance of success with the right people and knowledge around to help. A low standard of living perspective would be relying on free information, help from friends and family, and a lot of self-discipline. It is easy to see why those with less tend to have lifestyle issues.
The general need:
Food, clothes, house, water/heating, etc. The key items needed for the minimum quality of life. The level of quality of these items again depends on your standard of living. What is strange is how items that form part of the general need are not valued in the same way as others. For example, certain types of people will buy the cheapest quality foods, yet spend higher value amounts on luxuries. The mentality of food being a necessity devalues it, causing certain types to consider only spending the minimum. Whereas logic would suggest that the things in life that keep you the healthiest should have more money set aside. People don’t spend money as they perhaps should.
A pressing need:
Your car breaks down and it is beyond economical repair, so you need a new one straight away. Or do you? Where on the quality of life/standard of living chart does this fall for you? Do you own more than one car? If so, your purchase may not need to be quite as instant, you may be able to shop around and test a few cars before buying. At the opposite end of the scale, you would ask yourself whether you can actually afford to buy a replacement. Is the need pushing you into a decision of taking out credit to pay for it? Are there alternatives until you can afford it, such as lifts with friends and family, or using public transport?
The ‘that would be handy’ purchase:
This is a useful purchase, something that helps us achieve the desired outcome. It is not an immediate need, nor is it a dream want, but it is something that is purchased based on the type of buyer in question. Let us think about purchasing a home pasta maker, from the perspective of someone who really enjoys cooking. The further towards the reckless, the more of an immediate purchase it would become. The more cautious buyer would consider the amount of usage it would get, as well as the value in making the pasta, plus the costs involved in both money and time. There is also the convenience of the pasta maker. The goal is not to own a pasta maker, but to make homemade flavoursome pasta. Can the pasta of that quality be bought instead?
The luxury dream:
We’ve all been there, wasting away valuable minutes of our life as we stare longingly at something way out of our price bracket, or beyond our standard of living. When you analyse this buying day-dream state, it becomes clear how people flip the scale and start to value their standard of living over their quality of life. Imagine the luxury dream hierarchy as a mountain, with a path leading up to different points of value. Someone at the foot of the mountain may see a nice meal out as a luxury, where someone near the top would eat out so regularly it loses its luxury status. You can apply this to any type of purchase where there is a range (a bit like a class system). Air travel is a dream for the poorest, where first class for the rich is almost seen as a necessity.
There is so much information to gain from your customer base regarding this analysis. It can identify where your product sits on the scale and at which point each avatar is going to buy.
I will be spending more time on this topic in the future as it is absolutely fascinating.
Thanks for reading!