Understanding 3 Most Common Types of Customer Needs


When you’re a startup or an established business owner, your success is often measured by your ability to convince potential customers to buy your product or service.

To achieve success, you must understand your market  and the types of customer needs . You need to know your business’s niche, who your competition is, and what your value proposition is.

Recognize what makes your business inimitable and how it can be of service to your ideal buyer.

To understand how to fulfil customer needs, you must first understand the problem that your solution solves. If your product or service helps someone solve a problem, then they will likely be willing to pay you for it.

The deeper the problem, the deeper the desire to have it solved. For example, if you sell an item for consumption that helps people quit smoking, you provide a solution to a profound problem.

What are Customer Needs?

A customer need is a motivating force that prompts a purchase. It can be known or unknown and is the deciding factor when a customer chooses a solution. A great way to determine and evaluate needs is through the lens of “jobs to be done.”

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The jobs to be done (JTBD) framework suggests that customers don’t buy products. Instead, they hire them to complete jobs.

Jobs to be done is a way to describe the circumstances in which a consumer will use a product and the outcome they desire from that product.

A job to be done expresses what a customer wants to accomplish. With a solid understanding of jobs to be done, businesses can anticipate disruptions and identify new opportunities.

3 Types of Customer Needs

Businesses have a lot of different ways to categorize their customers. For example, a customer may need something within budget, offers a specific solution, or is reliable.

1. Functional Needs

Customers often make decisions about which product will best help them achieve a specific task or function. The product or service that best fixes their functional needs is the one they are likely to purchase or hire.

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Customers’ functional needs can be broad or extremely specific depending on their particular criteria to make a buying decision.
One shopper may ask for a garden hose, but another may need a hose of a particular length or one with a specific connector type.

2. Social Needs

Social needs are customer needs related to how a person wants to be perceived by others when using a product or service.

For example, a customer may purchase a smartphone because they want to be seen as tech-savvy.

It’s not the main reason they buy a product, but it can still influence their decision.

If a customer is environmentally conscious, they are likely more concerned about the sustainability of your product. They might be active in various communities where this is a concern.

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 Identifying customer social needs can be tricky. By analyzing your users, you can make inferences about their social needs.

If multiple users share a requirement, it’s essential to consider how it can inform your product development, sales, and marketing processes.

3. Emotional Needs

Emotional needs are related to social needs in that they’re usually secondary to functional needs.

Although social needs refer to how a customer wants to be perceived while using a product, emotional needs denote how a customer wants to feel while consuming a product.

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For example, your customer may choose one product over the other because it evokes their grandparents’ nostalgic memories.

It’s hard identifying customer emotional needs. But businesses that can do so can tailor their product messaging to fit them.


When it comes to figuring out what customers need, it can feel overwhelming. But, there are several strategies businesses can use to identify those needs.

By reflecting on past experiences, observing others’ behaviours, and conducting customer interviews, business owners can gain those valuable insights.

About the Author

Eugen Spivak is a multi-award-winning author, business strategist, and a business coach. Eugen is the founder of the Canadian Institute of International Business, an organization focused on a better way to learn business!

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