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Posted by Ben Voyer at 12:27 - 0 Comments

A first important point to discuss in addressing the question is to understand the difference between a) creating needs and b) understanding  / addressing needs. An electricity provider, for instance, addresses a need that most consumers have: that is, being able to power their house. If it understands its consumers well, it might also use sustainable energy sources, to address consumers concerns for a greener environment. The value for consumers is then strong and apparent, and is so in the case of all the needs that are understood and served by companies in a genuine and honest way. Often, needs that are understood and addressed by companies in such a way are basic or core needs, using terms from Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Creating needs, on the other hand, refers to practices where marketers try to convince customers that the product or service they sell addresses something they need (push strategy). This could be said to be the case, for instance, of many kitchen appliances, which we buy and use only once a year. Remember that yoghourt maker from the 1980s? Or all these products you sold on EBay just after you bought / received them? Creating needs is generating value on the company side, as consumers are attracted to novelty. But it does not necessarily generate value on the consumer side. It can actually create distrust, as consumers are less likely to be convinced by a product or service from the same company, the next time they see one!

Another important - and related - aspect of the question is to consider the need for a long-term relationship with customers. This, again, exposes two different logics that marketers can adopt.  First, a short term one, where marketers only consider customers as 'one time' customers. Second, a long-term strategy, which is about nurturing strong ties with customers, creating trust and brand loyalty - something, for example, Apple excels at. While a long-term strategy might be more costly in the short run, it contributes to creating larger profits in the long run. It is thus the most valuable approach, both from a company and consumer side.

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