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Do You Sell Necessity, Or Luxury?

733-1Hopefully you know the answer to that question. But maybe you don’t, and the reason is that things have changed. A new study by PEW shows that how items that were once considered necessities are now considered luxuries.

I. Yesterday’s Necessities Become Today’s Luxuries

In hard times, the Pew Research survey finds that many Americans are changing their minds about which everyday goods and services they consider essential and which ones they could live without. The survey also shows that “old-tech” household appliances have fared the worst in the public’s reassessment of the line between luxury and necessity in their daily lives.

“But Jim, that report is talking about things like dishwashers and microwave ovens… that doesn’t apply to what I sell.”


There are a million reasons why people buy things. Price, need, value, social status, perception, discounts, etc… As a marketer you have to tap into which one (or multiple) of those your target market needs to hear the most and then hammer them over the head with it to make your sale.

But remember, a big one is Need vs. Luxury.

Need vs. luxury is a a classic marketing tactic. It’s simple, your item for sale either solves a basic need, or is a luxury item that people can live without.

So which one do you sell? Do you know?

You sell necessity items you say? Are you sure it’s not a luxury item now?

It might be time to take a look at your marketing messages. In a tough economy, or anytime things change beyond your control, you may need to change some things up. Your products and services can change in your customer’s eyes in a blink of any eye.

Remember, there are advantages to selling luxury items. For one, you can usually sell them at a higher price. Plus, your marketing usually doesn’t have to be “cheezy”. :) But remember, it also means you’re probably going to be selling less of them.

Go ahead, take a hard look at your product/service line. Are you selling luxury or necessity?

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2 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. ericamessore
    April 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    Need vs luxury is one of the reasons I got into marketing. As a marketer, if you make the two interchangeable you win every time. When people need items they will buy it regardless of cost, and once they have it, it becomes a luxury for them. Luxury items turn into needs& if marketed the right way to the right people- consumers will absolutely need that luxury item. Then they will do what they can to turn that want into a need and spend the money on that particular item. The logic behind this is that people dont feel bad about spending money on things they need— when this luxury makes the transition to a need, the consumer does not feel guilty or bad about the purchase.

  2. DTs Flash Drive Blog
    June 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    This is a very important thought to ponder, especially when the word "recession" is going around. The question is if people really stop buying items just because they're labeled luxuries now. And if yesterday's luxuries are today's neccessities.

    Btw, as a health concious eater I'm glad to see microwaves are getting the boot. Then again, I'm not selling microwaves. ;-)