A good quote by Jean Baudrillard, Selected writings (1988):
“…he is forced to represent the individual as a completely passive victim of the system… we are all aware of how consumers resist such a precise injunction, and of how they play with needs, on a keyboard of objects. We know that advertising is not omnipotent and at times produces opposite reactions; and we know that in relation to a single need, objects can be substituted for one another… if we acknowledge that a need is not a need for a particular object as much as it is a need for difference (the desire for social meanings), only them will we understand that satisfaction can never be fulfilled, and consequently that there can never be a definition of needs.“
Why do I blog this? Because it encapsulates a lot of the problems I see in the debate around user needs: the difficult to define what it is, the relationship betweens needs and product communication, etc. Surely useful for discussion with students next weeks in my user-oriented design class.