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Marketing to a Need or Want

I see a lot of great marketing in my business because it’s my passion and I’m aware of what is going on around me with respect to marketing.

You may have experienced something similar when you’re thinking about a new car; suddenly you see that model everywhere. But I also see and hear of marketing that on the surface might seem great but which doesn’t attract the attention of the customer nor sell the product. It is creative, but it isn’t right.

In this article, I want to share two short case studies of marketing where I believe it was the alignment to the customer’s need or want that really made the marketing pop. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say if you don’t have alignment with a need or a want, you can forget sustained success with your brand.


The first case study is about consumer wants, and it involves a very well-known brand you will be familiar with, Apple. I believe Apple has been one of the best at understanding and aligning their brand to a customer want and that want is simply aesthetics. Aesthetics are things to do with beauty. As humans, we seem naturally attuned to recognise things that are beautiful in both nature and in ‘consumer land’.

Apple has been able to sell their products at a huge premium and often with long lines of consumers waiting at their stores for new model launches. It isn’t that their product has some amazing technical advantage over other brands nor do the products necessarily enable you to do a better job, but they have really tapped into this underlying sense of beauty and aesthetic in the design of their product range. This is aligned with a want or desire.


In my second case study, I’m closer to home and with a product and brand that couldn’t be further from Apple if it tried. It’s Cyclone fencing, a venerable 100 plus-year-old brand that is well known in the regional areas of Australia. It is a completely functional product, fencing, which helps farmers keep stock in and unwanted animals or pests out of their farming land.

The interesting thing is, when I took over the marketing of this brand as the first client for our new business in 2001, I set out to find what farmers needed and wanted from this brand. And what we found literally blew me away and paved the way for a massive increase in sales in the first year alone.

Why? Because we re-aligned the brand and it’s advertising with the needs and wants of the customer, the farmer.

At the time, Cyclone had been passed from pillar to post of large industrial companies; Boral, then Smorgon Rural and so forth. The advertising featured quite stunning hand-drawn illustrations of rhinos (to denote strength) and ringtail possums (to denote flexibility). On face value, the advertising was well executed.

Yet, in our research, we found that farmers were asking, “Why are you using a rhino for an Aussie brand?” We came to understand that they felt a certain pride in using Australian products and that choice of fencing was a generational thing; whatever granddad used, dad used and son used. They needed a quality fence, which Cyclone was, but they wanted the brand to reflect this generational pride in the farm.

Guess what? We changed the ads to show a real three-generation farming family standing behind a Cyclone fence and our very creative agency came up with the tagline, ‘Better Farms Start with Cyclone’. And in the space of a year, with no other changes apparent, this 100-year-old brand grew $9m in sales; over 36% growth.

Aligning your brand to the customer’s needs and wants is critical for your survival and prosperity.

It is a key part of marketing that is often misunderstood and even more often poorly executed. It isn’t necessarily about a pretty picture; it is about that picture aligning with their needs and wants and desires in their mind.

Align your message and win with your marketing.

Originally published on Smallville.

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