The Concepts of “Needs”
Needs are subjective driving forces that prompt customers to buy certain products. Typically they are all based on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (physiological, safety, social, self-realization/self-esteem and self-actualization).
On a more practical level customer have the following needs that are derived from the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are applied to a certain product or service:
Performance. Customers need goods that can do something well (Rice 65).
Features. Customers prefer to have certain supplemental characteristics given as a part of a product they buy.
Reliability. Customers want products with low probability of product failure within a certain period of time.
Conformance. Customers need goods to meet certain standards such as their expectations, or social expectations.
Durability. Customers want to use the product for a long time before it needs to be replaced.
Serviceability. Customers need to get an advice, service support, or recommendation from the company on the product uses, maintenance, replacement and upgrades (Dubois, 120).
Aesthetics. Customers need products that make them comfortable with their color, sound, smell and other physical characteristics.
Perceived quality and image. Customer need to have something of perceived value that would keep them happy.
How these Needs Fit within the Stages of the Consumer Behavior Model
Consumer Behavior model is a rather complicated matter to be discussed in the limited space of this essay, yet it is a set of philosophies, routines and customs that govern a buying decision of an individual based on his/her needs and external factors like society and environment (Hanna et al, 132).
Consumer behavior model comprises market segmentation or division of consumers based on characteristics like demographics, psychographics, consumption communities, cultural values, subcultures etc (Schiffman et al, 74). Consumer behavior model thus states that a company if it wants to sell effectively needs to know the customers’ needs about as much as we know the needs of our closed ones (and thus are able to satisfy them).
Segmentation allows the companies to precisely define market groups and their needs and then decide which groups they need, want or can cover with their products (Mowen et al, 90). For instance a regular citizen in the USA at home has a set of spoons, forks and knives and finds them comfortable and necessary to use. These people would not buy SpofoKnife for daily use since regular forks, spoons and knifes provide the same functionality. Yet when we think about tourists, mountain climbers, scouts, expedition members or the military who need to carry everything in one backpack (which weights about 80 pounds) we realize that these people indeed might need SpofoKnife since it is light yet provides the needed functionality.
My Company’s Target Market: An Application of the Concepts
The SpofoKnife, an innovative product that combines fork, spoon and knife is a unique product on the market yet it is believed to have future.
The target market for SpofoKnife in my opinion is the following:
Poeple involved in tourism and alpinism.
People involved in
SpofoKnife thus is used by those who want durability (SpofoKnife is made of a solid Teflon-coated piece of metal) reliability (SpofoKnife unlike its competitors does not have moving parts) and conformance (SpofoKnife looks like a super functional spoon and easy to hold handle)
My Company’s Competition: An Application of the Concepts The main competitors of SpofoKnife are not individual companies but rather 2 sets of products:
Regular spoon, fork and knife. These three are probably more useful than SpofoKnife, yet they consume about three times as much space as SpofoKnife does. Since SpofoKnife is used by those who consider space of their backpack scarce (tourists, military, scouts).
Swiss Army Knife ® (or other multi-purpose knifes with spoons, forks, saws, scissors etc, all of which hide in a compact handle).
The SpofoKnife provides a compact and very light instrument that can be easily taken alone on trips. The knife is made of light metal (duralumin or titanium) and covered with Teflon ® to assure that in cold weather it does not stick to peoples tongue. SpofoKnife saves space and thus should be valued by those who take trips and have limited space to take knives, forks and spoons. Unlike Swiss Army knifes ® that also provide a feature of a spoon, fork and a knife, SpofoKnife provides aesthetically pleasing looks and a shape similar to that of regular forks, spoons and knifes. The main competitor, Swiss Army Knife ® has a large handle (that also comprises scissors, mini-saw etc) and thus although can be used as a fork or spoon certainly is not very comfortable to use. SpofoKnife is simple and has a handle of a regular spoon/fork. Furthermore, whenever a Swiss Army Knife ® or similar products fall in dirt or get soiled their mechanisms can and do get jammed making it hard to impossible to elicit a fork or knife. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that when used as a fork or spoon, Swiss Army knife ® usually retains small particles of food that stick to the mechanism and can hardly be removed. Besides unpleasant odor that is denizen to virtually every Swiss Army Knife after it had been used for handling food (spoon, fork, knife), there is a chance that growing fungi and bacteria on the particles of dirt, soil and food that sticks between the handle and spoon, fork or knife might pose some danger to tourists and all those using Swiss Army Knife. SpofoKnife on the other hand does not have any moving parts and is one dimensional. That makes SpofoKnife a thing easy to clean and maintain. The last but not least is that SpofoKnife can be used immediately once it is removed from a leather case (in which it should be kept). Swiss Army Knife take longer time to operate since one has to find spoon, fork or knife (all hidden in the handle) and then pull the required instrument out.
In conclusion, I would like to say that SpofoKnife despite its simplicity and innovation has its own market future and existing target audience. SpofoKnife is superior to regular spoon, fork and a knife in terms of saving space, while superior to various compact multi-purpose knifes (with Swiss army knife being the best representative) in terms discussed earlier in the paper. The knife meets existing consumer needs and whims and is expected to bring revenue to the company that markets them.
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