A couple at the cafe order two teas and one cake with two forks.

The story the woman has told herself is that they are sharing the cake she ordered. Halving the damage.

The guy quietly sips his tea as she slices the cake into squares and begins eating the smaller pieces, picking around the edges of the rest until she has eaten the lot.

The cafe owner might be happy of course, because he has made a profit by catering to a need.

But I don’t think the customer got what she really wanted.

Another example:

40% of customer who bought McDonalds milkshakes for breakfast were not just satisfying their unmet need, they were fulfilling an unspoken desire for a one-handed snack, that made their commute less boring and tided them over until lunchtime.

What your customer does, not what she thinks, or says she does leaves clues about what she really wants from you.

Steve Jobs famously said:

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Maybe the real truth is that people know what they want, they are just not very good at articulating it.

The idea is to think beyond customer needs, ask yourself what job is the customer trying to get done?

Most successful brands don’t create products and services just for customer needs. They create for wants, desires, beliefs, behaviours and unexpressed world-views.

The same opportunity is open to you.

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