Innovation Strategy

Why is it important to understand needs and wants in your innovation process? By Deana - 6 min read

Why is it important to understand needs and wants in your innovation process?

Developing a new product or service, no matter how cool you might think it is, is useless if the consumers find it unappealing. Understanding their needs and wants is an imperative if you want a successful innovation, an innovation that can truly provide a solution to their problem and make their lives easier. Knowing that you are listening and addressing their needs and wants makes your customers feel appreciated and creates a stronger relationship. But this is all easier said than done. Customers have a wide variety of needs and even more ways of satisfying them. For you as an innovator, it is important to figure out all the different shades of the same need, and come up with an easier, cost-effective and more appealing solution.

Difference between needs and wants

Understanding the difference between needs and wants brings you one step closer to knowing your customers better. It also improves your innovation process and helps you focus on the right things. It will steer you in the right direction throughout the development process. So let’s point out some of the main differences between needs and wants:



Needs refer to our basic human requirements, without which we cannot survive 

Something that is good to have or do but we don’t necessarily need it for our survival



Point to necessity

Point to desire

Needs are constant throughout the life

Wants may vary and change

Describe a must 

Describe a wish 

From the above, we can see that humans have a limited number of needs which are linked to their survival and existence. We all have them, and depending on the situation we are in, some are more obvious and urgent than others. On the other hand, we have wants. They point out things we don’t need for our survival, but would bring us some kind of pleasure and content. Some say that wishes represent all the various ways you can satisfy your needs. Hence the limitless nature of needs and the unlimited nature of wants and wishes.


We have a need to connect with others. We can do it in person, but if that someone is not close, we can choose to send a letter, send a telegram, call them on their cell phone, text them, video call them, you name it. These are all different ways of satisfying one need. Some are more supreme than others. Introducing a touch screen on your cell phone did not create a new need. It created a new want, a desire. A more supreme way of satisfying the simple need of connections and the need of prestige. It just made it more convenient, fun to use, and indirectly a status symbol.

Do you create needs or wants?

Judging by this, you cannot create a new need, because they are already predefined and set. What you should switch your focus to is understanding them, and coming up with more supreme ways of satisfying them. Your job as an innovator is to trigger the desire within your customers, create a want, a new way of satisfying these needs. In order to do that, you must carefully design a unique solution to their problem.

Most valuable characteristics from your customer’s point of view

These are the main characteristics to pay attention to when creating an innovative product:

  1. Convenience  you want your new product to be easy to use, and make it simpler for your consumers to solve whatever problem or issue they are solving;
  2. Price  the new product should be cost-effective. The price should be equal to the benefits they are receiving. You want your customers to be satisfied with what they get for their money’s worth. 
  3. Design  one of the first things your customers notice as soon as they see your product is its unique design. The design also plays a big role in how the product is being used, and how are all the ingenious details put together so that the product not only looks good, but performs well too;   
  4. Efficiency  your innovative product should provide your customers with a simpler, faster and better solution;
  5. Reliability  you want your product to function every time the same, no setbacks, no unexpected errors;
  6. Experience  when using your new product, you want your customers to enjoy it, to be satisfied with their purchase;
  7. Functionality  of course, you want to develop a product with all the functions it should have in order to solve the specific problem.

There are more characteristics to pay attention to, such as providing your customers with all the necessary information throughout the entire customer experience. Also giving them some options to choose from and including them in some, or all, stages of your innovation process. Making them co-creators. This is nothing new, but what makes a successful innovation stand out from the competition is the right amount of everything. Even a bigger hit than solely catering to one need is creating a multipurpose product that can be a solution to more problems. And of course, the cherry on top is an innovative and sustainable solution.

Know where to start from

It is important to identify the need you want to address and the target customers. Then explore the need from all angles and see how it affects the lives of your target customers. It is pointless to try and satisfy the one same need within all people, because everyone has different tastes, values, backgrounds, priorities and so on, which all affect their decision on how they want to address that need. Knowing your target customers, their cultural background, lifestyles, income, values and habits will give you better insight into which characteristics to focus on. The human factor is a real mystery no matter how much you try to understand it. 

The true game changers

The real masterpiece innovations are the ones you never ever imagined you needed but as soon as you saw them, you knew you had to have them. You knew that it was just the perfect thing you were waiting for. They create an instant desire and change your life from that point on.

Innovation Cloud Crowdsourcing or Innovation Cloud’s VoC

It is important to keep in touch with your customers and community. Through their valuable feedback you can work on further improving your products and services. Co-creating makes your customers feel more appreciated and more attached to your brand because they have invested their time and effort. There are many tools out there for collaboration with your customers. We at Innovation Cloud love our Crowdsourcing tool, which is a great way to connect to your online community and encourage them to join the innovation process. If you are looking for a great new way to connect with your customers, then Innovation Cloud Crowdsourcing is perfect for you! Join Innovation Cloud and let us help you throughout your whole innovation process!

Deana - Content creator
Content creator

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