You know when you hear about a new product and you get the sudden urge to go out and get it? All of a sudden your life feels somewhat inadequate because it is missing this crucial item. Why does this happen? In reality, most of the time our lives function perfectly well without these “must have” items, but we just can’t seem to separate need from want. This article by Peter Noel Murray in Inside the Consumer Mind explains why we get a craving for the products that we just can’t live without.
The article explains that when it comes to the majority of our purchasing decisions–mostly anything that is not an everyday purchase–are driven mostly by our emotions. But this doesn’t fully explain the “must have” mentality. For an item to be a “must have,” it has to be backed by a shared emotional response among consumers market-wide. These items must hold a subjective meaning that is generally accepted and supported by society. For example, the iPad is a popular “must have” item that holds subjective meaning related to Apple’s innovative technologies. Which begs the question, is it the product consumers really want? Or does the brand have a lot more to do with it?
Another point this author makes is that the decision to purchase these items is not at all logical or rational. When you really think about it, many of these products have similar ingredients, features, etc. as the competing products in the market. So why choose the must have over the comparable alternative that is most likely less expensive? The answer is the status that these products hold is what really makes them the must haves that they are. Consumers believe, whether it be consciously or subconsciously, that these products will enhance their image. The status is what truly makes an otherwise ordinary product into this season’s “must have.”