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Need vs Want: What’s The Difference?

Ever since you were born, you had the urge to possess some things, and you also had the feeling that, without a specific thing, you would not be able to survive. Did you want that thing? Or did you need it? After all, what’s the difference between need and want? Keep on reading this article to find out.

Long story short, “want” is a term used to express something that you have a strong desire to possess or do. However, “need” is a term used for something that you must have to survive, like oxygen.

They seem like simples terms now that I have exemplified them, but they are a little bit more complex than that. These terms are used in general contexts and situations that change their meanings, so you need to be careful. But don’t worry, all you need to know to discover what these terms mean is to keep scrolling the article.

The Real Difference Between Need And Want

The most important difference between these terms is the degree of necessity that they express.

Let’s analyze “want”. Want is used when you have to express that you have this wish of possessing something that you don’t have but you can survive without.

For example, when you say that you want to go to a BTS concert, this is something that you deeply want, yet you can survive without. Maybe not as happy as would be if you went to the concert.

Now, need is used to represent a deeper feeling because you must have the thing that you need. In most cases, you can’t survive without it, or you think that you can’t survive.

You probably say a lot that you need to drink water, that you need to exercise, that you need to take a shower. You may survive without some of your needs, but what would make your life more uncomfortable. Need are, generally, essential things to make life bearable and even comfortable.

Some examples of needs that most humans have are sleep, water, food, shelter, job security, health security, strong bonds, self-confidence, respect, acceptance, a safe environment, and many more.

Most people also have what is known as “second needs” – needs that are as important to you as the ones that I’ve written earlier, but they are not important to all humans –, like an inhaler for asthmatic people, exercising regularly, eating healthy, etc.

The wants are up to you as a personal individual. They have to do with what you want for yourself, what are your desires. They can be abstract or concrete, and don’t necessarily have to do with your daily life. For example, wanting to travel to another country.

People have different wants, so this is a very unique thing. Think of you when you eat out with some friends. What do you order? When you order, you say “I want spicy food” or do say “I need spicy food”?

Of course, sometimes we want something so bad that we think that we need that to live. When I’m going through a very hot day, I think that I need a very cold popsicle, not that I want a popsicle. Can I survive without it? Yes. Do I want it with all of my heart? Definitely.

That’s why we usually make mistakes when it comes to these two terms. And, honestly, most of the time doesn’t make difference if you say that you want something instead of saying that you need something, and vice-versa. People will understand you perfectly even when you mixed these two up.

Need Vs Want: Comparison Chart

Need Want
  • Is something necessary to live;
  • Water, food, sleep, shelter, and job security are some examples of needs;
  • Everyone needs some basic things;
  • There are “second needs” that you may need, but some people don’t;
  • It’s a priority;
  • It’s something that you want so bad, but you don’t necessarily need that to live;
  • Can be used to express abstracts or concretes things;
  • It’s not a priority;
  • It’s all about what you desire;
  • It may change over time;

Difference Between Need And Want In Love

A very common way of seeing both terms is when they’re related to the romantic side of like. You probably heard in a TV show some characters saying that they “need” to be with someone to survive.

That may sound like a very romantic thing to say, but it’s not. It’s actually very problematic because when you think that you need a person, you’re losing a bit of your independence.

Remember, needs are used for things that you can’t live without. And when you are in love, it sure feels like you can’t survive without this person by your side. But you can.

You lived before you knew this person, and you can live after getting to love them. When you act like you need someone, you are constantly reliant on another person. You may forget how to do basic things by yourself, what is to be alone with your thoughts, how is to make decisions by yourself.

The worst thing about thinking that you need someone is that this puts a lot of pressure on everyone inside of this relationship. It puts pressure on you, but also your partner.

Imagine how hard is to be someone’s else oxygen? How can one live knowing that someone needs them to live? Is not fair to your partner to act like that, and it’s not fair to yourself.

Of course that most people don’t “choose” to need somebody. This is something that happens so quickly that you may not even realize it before it happens. But in most cases, you can. Just be honest to yourself and your feelings.

Difference Between Need And Want In Marketing

Have you ever had that feeling that you could not survive without having an iPhone? If not, you probably had that feeling with something else, may it be a console, video game, car, cloth, jewelry, book, etc.

Capitalism is very good at making us feel that we need an object in order to live, but in most cases, we don’t. Marketing is known as the art to make someone buy something that they didn’t know they need. Besides, is the art to make someone need something that they absolutely don’t need, and they didn’t even know that it existed. In marketing, the objective is to make you feel like want is a need.

That’s why before buying anything, you have to ask yourself first: “Do I need this? Or do I want it?”. If you really need it, buy it. If you want it, think if you want to buy it right now or if it can wait a little longer. Maybe, someday you will awake and think “well, I don’t want it anymore”.

Difference Between Need, Want, And Demand

This is still a question related to the marketing field.

Speaking in more technical terms now, needs inside of marketing are things that satisfy the basic requirement. Think of a car. What is the basic requirement that makes someone buy a car? Easy and reliable transportation. Your car is always there for you.

Wants are requests directed to some specific type of item.

Ok, now you know why someone needs a car. Choosing a green car is a desire. Any car will work just fine, but you want a green car. This is a specific request made by the customer. Finally, demand is a request for specific products that the customer wants to and can pay for.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.