Understanding Needs Wants Demands of Customers

One of the fundamental concepts of marketing is to understand and address the needs, wants and demands of your target market. For us trying to market and sell in the hardwood lumber industry it is no different!

From an academic point of view, needs are things that satisfy a basic requirement. Wants are requests directed to specific types of items. Demands are requests for specific products that the buyer is willing to and able to pay for. 

In a consumer market examples are usually very clear to identify. A person might have a need for reliable transportation. But they might want convenience, control and comfort and seek an automobile of their own. They might also demand it be provided in a certain color, with a specific safety rating and inclusive of non-standard luxury option package. All of which cost more and not everyone is willing or able to pay for.

For us in the hardwood lumber industry an example might not be as clear cut. For example, a hardwood flooring manufacturer might need 4/4 white oak lumber to make their flooring. However, they might want a specific white oak product, such as FAS/1F provided as 6.00”-6.5” sorted strips so they can more effectively make their clear wide plank flooring product. Plus, they might demand that it be straight line ripped and delivered in 5 days so they can keep their production schedule on target. Or , as we have seen more recently, your customers might ask for the product in S4S for. 

From a hardwood supplier’s perspective we have found it helpful to work hard to try to fully understand the needs, wants and demands of our customers. We have worked hard to build a broad product portfolio and a delivery system that can adapt to our customers ever changing requests which we think is very important to developing long term customer loyalty. We strive to provide value added service options with our hardwood lumber products so our customers are in the best position to succeed.

We find that the needs, wants and demands of our customers vary greatly. They vary by target market, cultural and social norms and even market conditions. The important part is to know what they are, what your customers are willing and able to pay for, and offer them what makes the most sense for that particular situation. It often comes down to effective listening and then matching your products and services to what your is customer truly asking for, (stated and unstated!).

What else would you add to the concept of needs, wants and demands as it pertains to the hardwood lumber industry?

Tony Cimorelli
The Baillie Group
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