customer needs

9 Types of Customer Needs: Identify and Meet Them

Jonas Sickler, Digital Marketing Analyst

Key Points

  • Customer needs are the various motivations for customer desire that lead up to a conversion or purchase decision.
  • Some of the most common customer needs include price, trustworthiness, value, user experience, empathy, and more.
  • When you fully understand your customer, you truly know what they need and want, and ultimately, can deliver that solution consistently.

What are customer needs?

Customer needs are an opportunity for transactions, but also a chance to provide substantial value to the customer. Organizations can make customer needs the guiding principle with a commitment to customer focus.


Customer needs

The driving motivations, psychological and otherwise, that prompt a customer to desire to make a purchase and ultimately, to make the purchase decision.

Customer needs are a big opportunity

Customer needs are one of the most important focal points that brands must hone in on. It’s not as simple as providing a great product and making sales, it’s about going the extra mile to deliver the best possible solution to the consumer. 

Customer needs aren’t just a desire, they’re an opportunity for brands to build trust and equity

Understanding customer needs lets brands:

  • Deliver what people want
  • Speak directly to the target audience
  • Reach parallel, but relevant audiences
  • Develop more realistic personas
  • Predict what your customer base will want in the future
  • Optimize customer experience
  • Max out customer satisfaction
  • Build vital trust and foster authentic relationships
  • Create customer loyalty
  • Guide product development
  • Improve existing offerings and new product features

Brands that fail to value customer needs simply miss opportunities to make authentic connections. Instead of building something based on solving the problems and pain points of real people, they simply exist to sell stuff. Not very compelling, is it?

9 types of customer needs 

Customer needs are unique and diverse but, by and large, can be placed into eight different types across two categories — brand needs and product/service needs. These include:

Brand needs

These are the elements customers need to see from your brand in order to feel like you’re a good bet. Hitting the mark on these features will help brands win customers.

1. Trust (reputation, authenticity, security)

Brand trust, the willingness of consumers to believe your promise to fulfill their needs, is one of the most powerful things a brand can build. Customers need brands to demonstrate trustworthiness by understanding them, and authentically and consistently delivering the value they seek.

2. Empathy (do you understand me)

The brands we identify with the most are the ones that demonstrate that they “get” us. They know our challenges and hurdles, they empathize with us, and they offer value and solutions that prove they understand. 

Empathy flowing both ways — from brand to customer and customer to brand — is as valuable as it is rare. Brands can demonstrate empathy by providing great customer service that empathizes with and directs people to solutions, providing rich content that anticipates customer desires, and more. 

3. Impact (do you make the world better)

Today’s brands also need to show potential customers that their purchase decisions align with their personal values and, more important, do not contradict those values. There are glaring examples of major brands that neglect this customer need, but it’s always at their peril and is often disastrous.

4. Transparency and fairness

Transparency and fairness are increasingly important customer needs to consider. Being open and honest, doing the right thing, being upfront with changes, handling issues in ways that benefit your customers, and being available with the information customers need are requirements.

5. Options, control, and accessibility

Customers need options when it comes to brand offerings, they need direct control over brand interactions aligned with consumer empowerment, and further customer support must be easy to access. Giving customers freedom and support on their terms is vital.

Product and service needs

These are customer needs related directly to your product or service that also influence perception and decision making.

6. Price

Customers have different budgets and spends they’re willing to make in pursuit of meeting their needs. Brands must offer price points that are aligned with the target consumers and the competitive landscape.

7. Value

In addition to a reasonable asking price, customers also need to have the value of an offering clearly and concisely demonstrated. Perception of value is incredibly powerful in influencing decision making.

8. User experience

Overall, solutions that offer exceptional user experience better meet consumer needs and capture loyal customers. Intuitive design, convenience, and compatibility are some UX elements.

9. Performance and Reliability

Your offering must perform correctly and reliably to help consumers reach their goal or solve their problem. Performance includes whether or not the offering functions the right way to meet the need, the efficiency it achieves, and its consistency. 

How to identify customer needs

The above customer needs are some of the many opportunities brands have to meet or exceed the needs of their customers. Each brand has to identify the unique needs that apply to its audience and the most important among them. Here are the best way to ID these needs:

Analyze intent data

Brands can hit the ground running with a thorough analysis of search intent data. Basic keyword research isn’t enough. 

Google and other search engines compile a massive set of data that, with the right alignment and analysis, reveals exactly what customers are searching for in real time. 

Knowing your audience on this level isn’t common, but it’s possible. And with search intent data, you’re getting a crystal clear picture of what real customers need that is simply unrivaled. This powerful customer data should be a foundational piece of correctly identifying the needs of your customers.

Conduct surveys and assess customer feedback

Conducting traditional feedback collection through a variety of customer surveys is also a big piece of understanding the issues facing your customers. The good thing about surveys is that  you can collect relevant answers directly from existing customers. 

All aspects of a brand’s external-facing operations can be scrutinized through the old-school survey lens. Product and service reviews, customer service feedback, general offering feedback, offering improvement opportunities, and more can all be assessed. 

The result is an intimate understanding of existing customers.

Commission market research

Brands can commission marketing insight companies to perform wide and sophisticated research on their behalf. Assessing specifically customer sentiment, retention and loss, the competitive landscape, target customer audiences, and more can provide useful detail on what customers and would-be customers actually want. 

Together with the other needs identification methods, market research provides yet another window into understanding your customers.

Execute a customer needs analysis

A customer needs analysis provides visibility into what customers want out of a given product or service. It helps to reveal improvement opportunities by collecting disparate customer information, like focus groups, customer feedback, usage trends, market research, and much more. Unifying your overall strategy with a customer needs analysis helps unlock valuable insight that might otherwise escape marketers.

How to meet customer needs

Understand the customer journey

Because 95% of customers are in the research stage, brands need a firm grasp of the customer journey from awareness to transaction. 

Figure out what that unique journey looks like, and where customers engage most. Then turn these touchpoints into highly optimized value delivery tools — owned assets that give researching customers exactly what they need to move down to the 5% who are buying.

Meet consumers where they are

When you grasp the realities of the customer journey (it’s not actually linear), it becomes clear that brands can’t expect real people to follow a simple path from awareness to transaction. 

Today, we must meet consumer audiences where they are, and on their terms. Otherwise we risk misalignment — providing something the audience doesn’t want, didn’t ask for, and won’t engage with.

Alignment happens when the brand knows what people want and develops the touch point infrastructure to deliver it, whether that person is researching and comparing, or closing in on a purchase decision. Hone in on what your people want and give it to them whenever they choose to engage.

Ensure consistent, authentic brand messaging

We said trustworthiness and authenticity are key elements that customers need to see from brands before they’ll commit to buy. 

One way to unify this pursuit is to develop and implement a strong brand story, embracing storytelling rooted in the brand’s origin, values, and worldview. 

Telling a consistent and authentic story happens each and every time a consumer engages — or it doesn’t. Brands that get their stories straight, double down on being authentic, and consistently demonstrate their values build substantial trust.

Strengthen brand reputation

Brands build strong reputations over time when they know what they stand for and act in accordance with their principles. Principles like customer centricity, offering free value, handling customer complaints rapidly, excellent customer service, providing post-purchase support, and more. 

These are customer-need universals — we all love brands that put us first and do the right thing. When you do that consistently, year after year, you earn a bulletproof reputation and win trust.

Anticipate needs

Knowing your customers doesn’t just mean you understand what they want right now, it means also knowing what they want next

The methods we outlined for identifying customer needs are simply the process of getting to know your customers. But it doesn’t stop there. 

By listening to customer feedback, developing a clear customer journey, and leveraging ongoing search intent data analysis, you’ll be able to detect shifts in needs and demand, and also capitalize on search trends. 

Deliver on customer expectations

At the simplest level, doing good business is keeping your promise and delivering on the expectations you’ve set.

Yet so many brands fail to do so and fail to change. Then they wonder why conversion rates and interest are declining. That is why brand story and positioning, narrative, and consistent authenticity are so important. 

Yes, you need a great product. Yes, you can and should improve your offering. But knocking it out of the park with trust, empathy, impact, transparency, price, value, fairness, options, control, accessibility, and more is how you build and maintain authentic consumer connection.

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