13 universal needs that motivate people to buy

When it comes to consumerism we all have complex needs and prioritise them according to what’s going on our lives at the time. But while the must-haves we want to max out our credit card on may be poles apart, you’d be surprised how much we all have in common when it comes to the basic human needs that motivate us to buy.

Getting a handle on those needs is a big stride for any business operator, not only in targeting your marketing messages but also ensuring your customer service processes become a powerhouse for customer retention and growth. This baker’s dozen plays a big part in winning people’s business.

  1. CONTROL – At all stages of the marketing, sales or buying process, people want to feel in control over information and choices available to them.
  2. GOALS – Does what you’re selling align with the result they want to achieve, will it bring them closer to the dreams, wants and needs?
  3. SELF-IMAGE – How does what you’re selling match how they see themselves or who they aspire to be? How will it give them the social cred or approval they desire?
  4. FAIRNESS – Are you seen to treat all customers equally, give them respect and offer fair trading terms?
  5. FRIENDLINESS – No-one wants to be made feel like they are an imposition. What’s your likeability factor? Can you say you’re a pleasure to do business with? Do you and your staff greet people with a smile?
  6. UNDERSTANDING – As a consumer I want to do business with someone who listens, learns more about me and my needs, and demonstrates they understand. Don’t you?
  7. SECURITY – Online and offline, people want security. It’s the comfort of knowing they aren’t making a dumb decision or kissing their money goodbye.
  8. RECOGNITION –Take the time to recognise people’s needs, concerns and problems. Then tell them how your products can fulfil their needs, dispel their concerns, or make their problems go away.
  9. IMPORTANCE – Customers are people first, customers second. We all like to be made feel important, and gravitate to those who make us feel that way. Remember their name, acknowledge them, surprise them occasionally, listen always and apologise if necessary.
  10. APPRECIATION – Treat people like a transaction and watch them walk. What are you doing to thank people for buying from you, supporting you and staying loyal?
  11. BELONGING – How will that widget you’re offering help them fit in, keep up, appear hip, and feel part of something that’s important to them?
  12. HONESTY – Consumers want honesty and transparency from the get-go – in your branding, marketing, pricing and communication. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Trust me, they won’t be back.
  13. CONVENIENCE – Make an honest appraisal, are you really doing everything you can to make it as easy as possible for people to do business with you in your corner store or cyberspace?

What’s the takeaway?

These are real people whose life baggage affects how they make decisions and how they respond to your ads and promotions. You can have the best products and great pricing, but if you don’t understand what matters most to people, treat them like human beings and offer a positive service experience, you’ve got no business.

The question that concerns them most isn’t “How cool is your website?”, “How slick is your pitch” or “How cheap is your product?” … it’s “What are you like to do business with?”.