A need is a state of felt deprivation. This means that the organism experiencing the need has a deficit of some kind. For instance, as human beings we are every now and then experiencing hunger. Hunger is a need and can by no means be created by marketers no matter how skilled they are. The fact that we become hungry and that we exhibit this particular need every now and then is a consequence of being a living organism and not the creation of marketers. However, we, being humans, use what we call food to satisfy our hunger and here marketers can affect and influence what kind of food we want in order to satisfy our basic needs. As a matter of fact, marketers can create new wants and influence what we want by innovating and marketing new kinds of food stuff. The average person is most likely confusing the creation of wants with creating needs. Needs cannot be created and we only have a few of them, for example needs such as hunger, thirst, social needs such as belonging, esteem needs and self actualization. These needs do not have to be created, they are already there and are part of the human make up. Is it part of the marketer's job description to create needs? Can needs be created by marketers? These two questions is often and uncritically answered with a yes by most non-marketing educated consumers. Believing that marketers can create needs is however a serious misconception of what a need is and moreover, what marketing is all about.
If I am hungry I may want to satisfy my need with a sausage, a meatball, a bowl of rice or any other food stuff available and there are virtually millions of them. Obviously I can express an infinite number of different wants that can satisfy the same basic need - hunger.
So when Charlie Nagreen or Fletcher Davis invented the hamburger (both have been accredited as inventors) and sold it to customers they didn’t create a new need, they merely created a new kind of product that could satisfy the very same basic need that humans have had since the dawn of mankind. However, the hamburger was something new that customers could want in order to satisfy their hunger. It is important to be able to distinguish between needs and wants since marketers can create wants but not needs.