What are the characteristics of human needs

Products and needs

With our blog "productrelated ”we want to share our passion for great products and their development from the first idea to a successful product with others. But what do we actually understand by a “product”?

A look at Wikipedia, for example, shows that there are a wide variety of product terms, whereby we want to devote ourselves exclusively to the economic product and not to the mathematical one. But even for a product in the economy, as Wikipedia reveals, there are many different definitions. There are

  • the transformation-oriented definition, in which input factors (goods, energy, work) are converted into a result, i.e. transformed,
  • the value-added-oriented definition, in which an asset is created in a value-added process,
  • the colloquial definition in which a product is simply a product or piece goods.

However, all of these definitions say very little about what a really good product is and how to create it. However, this is more helpful in this regard supply-oriented definition:

“From the perspective of the consumer, a product represents a means of satisfying needs and thus also of generating benefits. [...] Christian Homburg and Harley Krohmer define a product as a set of properties aimed at creating customer benefits. "

The supply-oriented definition contains the following core ideas, which from my point of view are essential for successful products:

  • they satisfy a need
  • they create customer benefits / gain benefits

The first question is how to do it identify real needs to which there is still no (sufficiently satisfactory) solution. On the other hand, you have to Find solutions that meet these needs and thus create a real benefit.

There are various theories and models in the literature about what needs are, the best known of which is probably Maslow's hierarchy of needs from 1943, which divides human needs and motivations into the following levels:

  1. Physiological needs / basic needse.g. the need to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, etc.
  2. Security needse.g. the need for accommodation / an apartment, health, protection from danger, order
  3. Social needse.g. the need for friends, partnership, love, charity, sexuality, care, communication
  4. Individual needs, e.g. the desire for (mental / physical) strength, success, independence, freedom, reputation, prestige, appreciation, respect and importance
  5. Need for self-actualization, the desire to exploit your own potential in the best possible way

These different levels and needs roughly show what needs one can pay attention to if one wants to create useful products.

Of course, there are already solutions for many of these needs, but on the one hand these solutions are sometimes not optimal, so that better ones can always be found (example locomotion: earlier horse, then carriage, car, plane, etc. and at some point maybe beaming), On the other hand, there are always “undiscovered” or latent needs that people are not aware of and for which no solutions have yet been offered.

So it is important to keep your eyes open at all times, to look for problems (a problem indicates an unsatisfied need) and to question existing solutions.

If you have found a need that has not yet been or not sufficiently satisfied, you should get into Product Discovery, that is

  • understand and analyze the problem,
  • Generate ideas,
  • Build prototypes,
  • test the ideas with (potential) users
  • analyze and iterate

As a result of the product discovery, a verified product idea should then come out, which can then be implemented - in the hope that the product as a solution really satisfies a need and brings real benefits.

Incidentally, it is exciting to look at existing products and product visions and to analyze which needs are to be satisfied by them. Facebook (“make the world more open and connected”), for example, clearly aims at social needs, while Google (“organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”) aims more at individual needs.

P.S. Contrary to popular belief (especially among advertisers), I am of the opinion that you cannot create new needs. All needs are already there in one form or another, they just may not yet be in the customers' awareness or have not yet played a major role. Therefore, needs can be awakened to the maximum, i.e. a need that has always been latent can be pointed out through information (e.g. advertising) and thus a stronger desire can be generated.