I ask this, because as marketers, we’re always having to answer – especially to those who are skeptical about marketing – the following: Do marketers create the need? Or are we responding to a need?
When Apple created the iPhone, could anyone say there was a need for it? No. Many people seemed content with their mobile phones that accomplished the basics of what phones are supposed to. But Apple, always thinking ahead, decided to go quite a few steps further and created their iPhone, which had a huge impact culturally and for Apple, financially.
Already seen as a great tech company for their computers, they were now viewed as great innovators. Not to be outdone, Apple’s competitors soon started developing their own smartphones.
Or suppose I’m already happy with the car I drive (which is a basic Suzuki), it gets me to and from work, as well as elsewhere for pleasure and fun, yet I can afford a luxury brand ( Porsche), what is marketing’s role in this? Do I want the Porsche because I need it? Has Porsche constructed its image to be so appealing that the brand has created the need in me?
No doubt there are many instances in which the need is there first. For instance, when a family is growing, there is the need for a minivan. And auto manufacturers will respond to that need appropriately, trying to influence the parents’ decision to buy their brand, touting all of the features that meet their need, which will include reliability, safety and space.
If marketers are creating the need, then this is an artificial need. Or is it? To go back to whether I need a Porsche or not; if my Suzuki broke down and needed replacing, I would need a new car. But wouldn’t any car do? Porsche can meet my desire for luxury and speed. Other cars can’t. But do I need all that luxury and ability for speed? No, it’s a desire. Did Porsche create that need or desire?
I’ll confess, I don’t know the answer to the question.