The Other 'Needs'

While new product development and innovation in general should be focused on customer needs, it important to realize that there are many needs to explore. Don't expect to be able to create new needs with your products. If anything, your product will probably be most successful if it provides a new or improved capability that utilizes emerging technologies in a cost effective way. While it's easiest to understand and research latent/stated needs, there are four others worth considering - I'll put them into the context of customers looking for an "inexpensive phone." Real needs are what customers is looking for, but maybe can't put into words (not just a up low upfront cost phone, but one that has a low operating cost). Unstated needs are what they expect, but didn't mention (they want good customer service from the phone retailer). Delight needs may seem like a bonus, but they are truly desired (phone comes with free accessories - case, charger, etc.). Secret needs are the primitive "ID" needs that customers don't want to talk about (phone that makes them look trendy). So, if you're only focused on responding to the stated needs, you'll likely shortchange your customer, and ultimately miss out on serving customers that may otherwise pull the plug on their next purchase.