Need Vs. Want: 11 Key Differences

Need Vs. Want

Need and want are the two interchangeably used terms in our life. We often say I need this, I want this for the same thing. Although they have similarities, do you know the differences between them? In this article, we will cover this.

Needs and wants are important concepts in finance, economics, and even marketing in our whole life. Where, needs to refer to feelings of deprivation that are necessary for one’s survival. And, want is the desire – that means it is good to have, but not necessarily for someone’s survival.

Let’s uncover what the need and want are and the similarities and differences between them.

What is Need?

A need is something vital for survival and well-being. It’s what we must have to live a healthy life. For instance, oxygen, water, and food are basic human needs. Failing to meet these can lead to sickness or even death.

Related: Consumer Needs

Other needs include shelter, clothing, and healthcare products. These necessities are essential to function properly. Recognizing and fulfilling needs is crucial for a healthy and happy life.

Examples of Needs:

  • Oxygen for breathing
  • Water for hydration
  • Food for nourishment
  • Shelter for protection
  • Clothing for warmth

What is Want?

A want is something desired but not essential for survival. It’s what adds comfort and enjoyment to life. For instance, wanting a big house, fashionable clothes, or luxury items. Wants vary from person to person and can change over time.

Unlike needs, not fulfilling wants won’t threaten our survival, but they can bring happiness. It’s important to balance fulfilling wants with meeting needs for a well-rounded life.

Read Also: Needs, Wants, and Demands in Marketing

Examples of Wants:

  • Fancy car
  • Designer clothes
  • Exotic vacations
  • High-end gadgets
  • Expensive jewelry

Difference Between Need and Want

So far we understood the definition of need and wants – now, let’s differentiate between want and need.


The need is the basic necessity for human survival. Examples include – food, water, oxygen, shelter, etc. On the other hand, want is the desire which is necessary to add comfort in life.

Essential for Survival

The need is necessary for basic survival. Whereas want is not crucial for survival but it is necessary to add comfort and enjoyment in life.


The need is limited and fundamental and, the want is unlimited and varying in nature. For example, in hunger, people only search for food. Whereas when people have more money they desire to buy as many as things they can as such want is unlimited and varying in nature.

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The need is vital for existence, whereas, the want adds comfort, and is not necessary for existence.


Fulfillment of needs brings satisfaction to us. Take an example of the satisfaction we get after eating food. On the other hand, the want also provides satisfaction but it may be temporary.

Change Over Time

Need remains relatively constant. In contrast, want can change with changes in preferences and circumstances. For example, food is the only way to fulfill hunger. In contrast, based on traditions and trends people want change over time.


Needs generally are consistent. Whereas, wants vary in intensity and urgency.

Impact of Non-Fulfillment

When the need is not fulfilled, it can lead to severe consequences. Take the example of getting sick because of hunger. Whereas, fulfillment of want may result in disappointment, but is not so critical.


Needs often include the category of basic survival needs. On the other hand, the want may involve the category of material goods or experiences.


The need has no competition. But, the want can involve competition for satisfaction.


Needs cannot be postponed. But wants can be postponed based on circumstances.

Read Also: 10 Types of Market

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