What are customer needs?

Rikke discusses the importance of understanding and meeting customer needs

In order for an entrepreneur or business to be successful, it is key for them to identify and fulfil customers’ needs. Most business ideas come from an entrepreneur spotting a need for a product or service. There are four main customer needs that an entrepreneur or small business must consider. These are price, quality, choice and convenience.

Price

Price is how much a business charges for its product or service. Customers want a fair price when purchasing a product or service. Usually, low prices will draw in many customers, although people ultimately want value for money.

It is important for a price to match the quality of the product or service that the business is selling. For example, if a jewellery shop sells rare diamonds, customers will expect a high price. In this instance, having a low price could put people off. However, if a discount shop sells its own brand of chocolate, customers may expect a low price as they will assume the product is of low quality.

Quality

Quality relates to the standard of the product or service being offered. Customers always expect some level of quality, no matter how much they pay for a product or service. Generally, those paying a low price will expect a lower level of quality and those paying a higher price will expect a higher level of quality. For example, if a person buys a handbag for £15, they may expect it to last for six months. However, a person who spends £500 on a handbag may expect it to last for five years or longer.

Similarly, the levels of service offered by businesses also vary in quality. Low prices often mean a lower-quality service whereas higher prices often mean a higher-quality level of service.

Choice

Choice is very important – many businesses have a range of products and/or services available to suit different groups of customers. Customers have different needs and desires when buying items. They might want different styles or sizes, or even completely different products altogether. For example, a clothing shop may need to stock a range of styles of clothing, and a range of sizes for each item of clothing it offers. Similarly, a sandwich shop would need to offer a range of sandwiches to cater to a range of customers. For example, a customer on a vegan or vegetarian diet would not be interested in a tuna sandwich.

Businesses that operate through e-commerce are able to have a wider choice available, as they are not restricted by the display area in a physical shop.

Convenience

Customers and consumers want convenience and are often willing to pay more for it. Convenience relates to something being easier, quicker or generally less hassle for customers. An example of this would be buying clothes or food online rather than travelling to a shop or takeaway – customers are often happy to pay an additional delivery fee for the convenience of being able to stay at home. Another example is a ticket-selling business being able to display tickets via an app on a smartphone rather than requiring customers to print out their tickets.