One of the greatest mistakes that can be made when it comes to marketing is not understanding what your consumers are actually buying. We all know what we are selling, but do you really know what your customers are buying your products for?
Jeremy Bullmore gave me some fantastic insight and examples to this question. Let’s say you make expensive pens, you know you are selling a pen that is made from high-quality materials, that is flawless after going through quality control and is made to last a relatively long time. You know what you make, but does your customer buy the same things you sell? Different segments of your market will buy your pen for different reasons, for an expensive pen, these may be for prestige, personal pleasure, or the gratitude of a recipient if the pen is bought as a gift.
Consumers do not buy goods for the good itself, they buy it for the benefits and capabilities gained from owning or using the good.
For example, the original purpose of a candle was to get light, but how many people do you think buy candles to produce light in developed economies? People buy candles to arouse emotions, to feel relaxation, comfort, a homely ambience, etc (Source). These benefits are brought upon by the light and scent of the candle, but the emotions are what candle buyers want, not specifically the light and scent.
A quote from Theodore Levitt illustrates the concept perfectly; “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.” The truth is, that for every product and service, the product you sell is not what your consumers buy.
Understand what your customers are buying, then you will know what you need to sell.