Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously coined the expression:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
It’s a reminder that consumers want the benefits a product provides them, and not really the physical product itself.
However, what we also often forget is that people may not want the “quarter-inch hole” either. Sometimes, they want what to feel they’re knowledgeable about tools. Sometimes, they just want the latest thing that comes out. Sometimes, they want an excuse to get out of the house and go buy something.
People rarely ever make completely rational decisions, even more so when it comes to what they buy. If they did, advertising wouldn’t work for a large majority of products. People would simply research the best alternative and purchase based on the features that most fit their needs. In reality, how often is that ever really the case?
When developing your marketing, try to look beyond the simple benefit (e.g. hole) and try to discover their underlying desire (e.g. knowledgeable in tools). This can help you to craft messaging that more effectively appeals to them and sell them what they really want.