I have been conducting in-depth customer needs research on behalf of a few different clients as of late. In the process of conducting this research, I have discovered something quite interesting. Customer needs and benefits have become more bifurcated. That is, the needs and benefits are becoming more separated into one of two buckets. I will label the two buckets "Self-focused Needs" and "Outward-focused Needs."
Here are some of the needs that arise within the "Self-focused Needs" bucket:
- Social status
- Creature comforts
And here are some of the needs that group together in the "Outward-focused Needs" bucket:
- Making a difference
- Contributing to a better society
- Helping others
- Valuing diversity
- Global awareness
- Environmental sensitivity
- Aesthetic appreciation
The people who seek to fulfill self-focused needs view those who seek to fulfill outward-focused needs as "soft," "weak," "naive" or "politically correct." This (self-focused) group is driven more by the sense of a zero sum (win-lose) game, a hyper-competitive environment, hierarchy and fear.
The people who seek to fulfill outward-focused needs view those who seek to fulfill self-focused needs as "selfish," "black and white thinkers" or "spiritually unevolved." This (outward-focused) group is driven more by a non-zero sum game, cooperation/collaboration (win-win) and the view that the world is innately friendly and good.
I find this to be truly fascinating. It is something marketers should keep in mind as they approach customers.