In a recent survey, people said that 49% of the items purchased through daily deal coupons were “needs,” while 48% were “wants.” But come on, who are people kidding?
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, also stated that there was a notable difference between the sexes in terms of needs-vs.-wants deals:
More than half of men, 53 percent, said they bought coupons for products or services they wanted, while an equal percentage of women got coupons for items they needed.
What complicates the issue, and calls the survey data into question, is that different people define needs and wants differently.
Another survey, from Lightspeed Research, gathered info with regards to the kinds of purchases made via daily deal sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, GiltCity, and others. The top five categories, in order, are:
Honestly, how many of these should really be categorized as “needs”? We all need to eat, but that doesn’t mean you need to dine out at restaurants. Clothing is a need. But something tells me the majority of consumers buying daily deal coupons for clothing already have closets full of clothes. (The average American has 90 articles of clothing—compared to less than 15 during the Great Depression—and that doesn’t include underwear, socks, bras, or pajamas.) Spas, entertainment, and electronics? Hard to really call them needs, though things like cell phones may qualify nowadays.
Another interesting stat from the Lightspeed survey: Of the people who have bought daily deals, 23% say they’ve purchased coupons that expired before having a chance to use them.
At least in these cases, there should be no debate about wants vs. needs: If you buy something you never use, it’s hard to argue you needed it.