Customers are the people or firms who buy products; consumersactually use the product, or consume it. Frequently customers are also consumers, so the terms might be used interchangeably, but often the person who buys a product is not the one who ultimately consumes it. A need is a perceived lack of something. This implies that the individual not only does not have a particular item, but also is aware of not having it. This definition has nothing to do with necessity; human beings are complex, and have needs which go far beyond mere survival. A want, on the other hand, is a specific satisfier for a need. An individual might need food (hunger being awareness of the lack of food) and want a curry. Wants become demands when the potential customer also has the means to pay for the product. Some marketers have made their fortunes from finding ways for people to pay for the products, rather than from merely producing the product. The demand for a given product is therefore a function of need, want, and ability to pay.
A product is a bundle of benefits. This is a consumer-orientated view, because consumers will buy a product only if they feel it will be of benefit. Diners in a restaurant are not merely buying a full stomach; they are buying a pleasant evening out. Customers in a bar are not buying fizzy water with alcohol and flavourings in it; they are buying a social life. Here a distinction should be made between physical goods and services. For marketers both of these are products, since they may well offer the same benefits to the consumer. Services and physical goods are difficult to distinguish between, because most services have a physical good attached to them, and most physical goods have a service element attached to them. The usual definition of services says that they are mainly intangible, that production usually happens at the same time as consumption, that they are highly perishable, and that services cannot be owned (in the sense that there is no second-hand market for them).
Publics are any organisations or individuals that have actual or potential influence on the marketing organisation. This is an important definition for public relations practitioners, because they have the task of monitoring and adjusting the firm's activities relative to all the firm's publics, which can include government departments, competitors, outside pressure groups, employees, the local community, and so forth.
Markets are all the actual and potential buyers of the firm's products. Few firms can capture 100% of the market for their products; marketers more commonly aim for whichever portions of the market the firm can best serve. The remainder of the customers would go to the competition, or just be people who never hear of the product and therefore do not buy it.
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