Copywriting: Between Wants and Needs

I have to admit, I actually learned this from an old guy in Udemy through it's 'preview' course. In the end, I decided not to subscribe to the video due to poor visual aid, slow pace and old school approach.

Despite not subscribing, I learned a valuable lesson in copywriting. Wants versus Needs, so I dug deeper.

1. Customer will find the cheapest to fulfill needs.

Let's start with an example.

My daughter loves powdered chocolate milk. She loves it so much that she refuses any powdered milk which is not chocolate. She would rather starve than drink white milk. And the amount she consumes 3-4 bottles per day. I need to refill once a week.

Because she needs her fix, and I needed to save money. I will get her favorite brand at the cheapest possible cause, even if it means buying in bulk. Same brand, different outlet.

Basically, I don't care about the DHA, EDA or whatever (as long as not too much sugar), put in the milk.

Another example would be flying to a destination.

Let's face it, trying to sleep in any plane is horrible. Hard seats, bad meals, crying babies, chatterbox neighbor, you know the rest. It's unpleasant. Buying first class would be ideal, but I DON'T NEED luxury, I only NEED to get to my destination.

Therefore, I'll find the cheapest possible bargain I can get.

2. Competing using NEED is a race to the bottom.

I've lost a lot of web design deals because of price. The prospect wanted the best possible price for the value that they are getting. I do not submit to these things. Because they NEED to be thrifty, I will not be the first on their list. I've looked at the price set by others, it was half of what I'm offering.

I reverse engineered their price and found out, at best, they will earn about 3% profit for the project. It's not worth it, unless I needed to put food on the table.

A dear friend told me, if you start low, you're gonna go lower.

It's a tall order to increase the price if your bid starts low.

3. The myth, WANT is always luxury.

Naturally human associate WANTS with luxury goods, services anything expensive. While this remains true, it could also be said otherwise.

For example, when my wife wanted to give birth to our first born, she wanted to feel secure. Being a hopeless soon-to-be father, I prefer the nurses feed me what to do (registration and stuff). So we went to a private hospital. Sure it costs a lot, but this fulfill main criteria, feeling secure.

A lot of our peers ask why not the public hospital?

It wasn't because I wanted to be flashy, it's because I don't know what to do.

So WANT supersedes NEED.

Copywriting: Between Wants and Needs 1

Another great example is Coca-Cola.

Who wouldn't want a cold drink in the middle hot sunny day? I wouldn't drink it out of the blue, but if they happen to catch me at the right time, oh, that feels so good.

4. WANT will get you bigger Margin

"Do you want smarter kids? Drink this DHA Milk!"

If you happen to read about DHA in Milk, it's not exactly expensive ingredients from the Alps or something. Just some added synthetic to enhance the content. It's only a fraction more than the cost of producing normal powdered milk but they were able to command better margin for the product.

Let's say I were to sell you a website. I could either sell the technical specs or show you how to make more money from the website. Technical specifications are needs. You can take it and compare with others easily, but what don't get is how to turn your website into a money-making machine.

If you're on tight budget, you'd choose base on technical spec, but if you WANT more sales, then you'd choose the money-making machine pitch. Both cost roughly the same, except they sell at a different price!

5. NEED connects Logically, WANT connects Emotionally

Copywriting: Between Wants and Needs 2

Like it or not, most of our expenditure is driven emotionally and justify by logic. There's a mix feeling about this. As individuals, I may be driven by emotion, subconscious mind. But as an organization, especially in business to business, emotion is out of the window if the price is not justifiable.

Our logical brain (neocortex) helps to evaluate price, specifications, ease of use, time-saving and so forth. As long as you can measure, you can find a way to justify.

Meanwhile, the Limbic system (emotional brain), is where we tend to lose the battle against, such as FOMO (fear of missing out), greedy (when we attend a big warehouse sales), feeling precious and so forth.

When I was in Perth at Office Work, there was a teenager convincing her dad to get her iPhone XR. That phone is not cheap. She was telling her dad how it'll help her homework, take better photos and a lot faster than her current phone, iPhone 7s (its only two generation apart). No dad would buy into that. But if she said something like, she won't go out at night, will be home by 7 every day, try get better grades. The dad would've budged.

It's not about what the teen needs, its what the dad wants.

The based way to target people is their reptilian brain. Now that's another topic altogether. But you get the flow, there's always gonna be another deeper topic to talk about.


6. Example of NEED convert to WANT copywriting

It'll be a lot easier if I show you what I mean. We'll just do the title ok.

Need Copywriting Want Copywriting
Medical consultation at an affordable price Need a quick back pain relief?
Cheapest car rental in Kota Bahru Rent Clean, New & Accident-Free in Kota Bahru.
IPS LED monitor has the 14 million colors Work longer without straining your eyes with IPS LED monitor
Clears acne in 14 days Feel more confident without makeup in 14 days.
24/7 100% server uptime Sleep like a baby with zero downtime.


Notice how on the left side of the table, you can actually compare with others, and on the right column, you can't? There's no way you can measure back pain (easily). Need is objectified, while want is subjective.

It's easier to paint a dream with subjective words (wants) than objective words (needs).

7. How To Change Your Game?

Here are some pointers to change you copywriting title.

  1. Identify your target audience. Make sure you are selling to the right person (with the money of course). Create at least 3 personas.
  2. Understand your audience paint point, what makes them feel good, what are their dreams.
  3. Interview customers. It's the best way to know what they have accomplished with your products.
  4. Reuse your old copywriting. Find them, identify need or want, and fix them.
  5. Use these copywriting for first impression marketing. E.g. your website, brochure, banner, facebook ads.
  6. Raise your awareness. When driving, look at the billboard, is it want or need?

When in doubt, ask your mother. She would know the difference between want and need easily.

Recap Need vs Want

Need can be substituted for cheaper items, Want is not easily compromised. Target the limbic system (emotional trigger) not the neocortex. Selling 'need' is a race to the bottom. 'Want' will command better margin.

The Strategic Want vs Need

Your title must be emotionally driven. Your 1st paragraph or next sentence should justify the logic. By combining the two, you not only capture their interest but also help to think for them (which most of us are sometimes absent-minded).

Read more about this topic here. Marketing Psychology.

If you have any question, please feel free to drop me a line below. I'll try my best to answer it.

A share would be, Sublime.

Hi, I'm Edwin

I'm a multilayer Marketer + Designer that helps businesses get more leads. My core skills are web design, SEO and Copywriting. I work at Web Design, Laman7

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