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Parents send their children to school in the hope that their children will grow and develop into better human beings. However, if the students are not satisfied with either the teaching or the facilities and the parents do not see the child blossoming, there may be unfulfilled needs. This means that the parent and child would actively be looking to fulfill those unfulfilled needs. This is where another brand, which could fulfill those unfulfilled needs, could cause a brand switch.

In the case of mobile phones both in terms of handsets or service providers, if the user finds problems either in terms of the quality or the software or in terms of connectivity or in terms of service, consumers may look out for other brands to satisfy their unmet needs. This would then lead to a brand switch.

In the case of restaurants if a guest is not greeted properly or not treated properly and is served the wrong dish or has to go through a long waiting period, the guest may be upset and would always crave and desire for a better restaurant. If you track the customers of other restaurants and try to convert them to your brand, this situation could be a great opportunity to ensure brand switch through the process of understanding the dissatisfied customer’s unfulfilled needs.

Consumers of some television brands are also subjected, sometimes, to go through regularly facing reception problems or service empathy. If the consumer needs, whether it be a kid or a senior citizen, is unfulfilled he may look for another brand. Infact not only would he look for another brand but the consumer would also spread bad word of mouth which may further lead to a general state of the brand image getting eroded.

Thus we see that there are many product categories as well as there are many areas wherein there could be gaps in the fulfilling of consumer needs. These unfulfilled needs are undoubtedly a problem for the brand in question but are a great opportunity for a challenger brand who wants to attack the market share of the brand in question. The attacking brand could systematically understand the unfulfilled needs on both the tangible and intangible and then go all out and hit out at the targeted brand.

Why does this phenomenon of unfulfilled needs arise? The main reason of the situation of unfulfilled needs, according to me, is the non-understanding of the consumer. Some brand marketeers do not regularly interact with final consumers. This leads to non-understanding of the actual needs of consumers leading to unfulfilled needs.

Another reason for consumers feeling that their needs are not fully met is that the changing needs of the consumers are not tracked and the same age old product is offered without being sensitive to the changed and upgraded consumers. The new aspirations of the consumers are ignored and instead of the brand changing its offering it is expected for the consumer to adjust his or her lifestyle as per the old product. All this leads to unfulfilled needs and could be very exciting for attacking brands who want to snatch away market share from those brands who are not able to completely or regularly fulfill needs of the consumers.

It is important for brand marketeers to realise that if they allow unfulfilled needs to exist amongst the consumers other brands could eat into their market share and easily convert consumers towards their brands.

I would like to classify the needs as per my REAPS Module. These needs need to be checked regularly so that there are no unfulfilled needs.

R - Rational Needs
E - Emotional Needs
A - Aspirational and Intangible Needs
P - Product Tangible Needs
S - Spiritual Needs



Some of the examples of the various needs are as follows :

R - Rational Needs - Banking
E - Emotional Needs – Jewellery, Gifts
A - Aspirational and Intangible Needs – Club Membership, Home, Education
P - Product Tangible Needs – Food, Clothes, Cosmetics
S - Spiritual Needs – Tradition, Culture, Festivals
Needs are evolutionary. They must be viewed for a particular consumer segment at a particular point of time.

The same brand may serve different needs of different persons. One person’s existing need may be another person’s latent need. For a doctor, for example, a car may be an existing need; whereas for a teacher it may represent a latent need.

Halls, the mentholyptus cough lozenge, is primarily an offering for those persons with irritant throats. Though the brand found widespread acceptance among this consumer segment, research revealed another dominant consumer segment, youngsters who smoked clandestinely and sought the help of the brand to camouflage their tobacco-laden breath.

It is important to note that while some marketeers in certain conditions are known to bemoan a diminishing market, in actuality , the market never shrinks or declines, its shifts. Because the needs of consumers change and if the brand is to stay alive, it should keep addressing the change or be run the risk of becoming a dinosaur.

If the REAPS Module is followed then there are less chances of unfulfilled needs existing. It is important to constantly be in touch with consumers to understand their current and changing needs. A brand which does not do that would be open to attack (other brands to convert its consumers and make them switch their brands).

A young Indian entrepreneur successfully identified a need and went on to establish a very successful brand, opening up in the process an entirely new brand category. Today, multinational majors too participate in this vibrant brand category.

Since looking good relates to feeling great, the young entrepreneur focused on the face. His product came with the brand promise ‘no marks’. Little blemishes, he said, would be banished forever and users of No Marks would no longer have to tolerate marks on the face. He knew this would act as a confidence booster for his target audience. Because if the consumer believed that the facial marks would disappear, his self-esteem would automatically go up. This need of ‘looking good’ by removing facial marks led to the creation and development of a new category of anti-mark creams. This Brand Category Growth, fuelled by an appropriate Brand Naamkaran of No Marks and an apt brand positioning of ‘From Marks to No Marks” has now attracted other players into the field.

There are in my opinion five types of needs

1. Existing Need – Identify and meet it
2. Latent Need – manifest it (bring it out)
3. Opportunity Need – create it
4. Changing Need – Address it
5. No Need – Ignore it

Finally, I would recommend that 5 types of needs should be understood so that there is no chance of having unfulfilled needs.
Brand Marketeers, please note if you let unfulfilled needs exist other brands could fulfill the consumers needs and take away your consumers through brand switch.

Copyright © 2006, All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor – Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
No part of this document may be modified, reproduced, stored, deleted or introduced in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (Electronic, Mechanical, Photocopying, Recording or Otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of the document.
The author is Jagdeep Kapoor, Brand Guru and Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy.
Tel: (022) 28477700/7701 (022) 28470214/15 Fax:022 28477699
E-mail : jkapoor@samsika.com