What is unwholesome demand? Definition and examples

Unwholesome demand is demand for things that most people perceive as bad. They may be bad, for example, for your health, or perhaps they are a danger to society. When there is unwholesome demand for a product, there are efforts to discourage consumers from purchasing it.

Products such as cigarettes and alcoholic drinks have serious health risks. Many people and groups try to discourage us from buying tobacco products or abusing alcohol. However, demand for them exists regardless. Therefore, there is unwholesome demand for cigarettes and alcoholic drinks.

Monash University has the following definition of the term:

“The desire for goods, services, and activities that are deemed to reduce individual and social welfare.”

“Examples include the desire for illegal drugs, excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, and driving at excessive speeds.”

Demand refers to a measure of desire to own or have a good or service. It is the opposite of supply. Demand ‘wants’ while supply ‘provides.’ Hence, the expression ‘supply and demand.’

Unwholesome demand
Termium Plus defines unwholesome demand as follows: “A state in which any positive level of demand is felt to be excessive because of undesirable qualities associated with the product.”

Negative demand vs. unwholesome demand

Unwholesome demand is the other side of what we call ‘negative demand.’

Negative demand

Negative demand is demand which results from consumers’ dislike of something. Often, the product is good for us, but we don’t like it.

For example, nobody likes going to the dentist. That is why we brush our teeth, avoid sugary foods, and use dental floss. However, when we need to, most of us go.

Similarly, none of us wants to have a heart attack. Therefore, we pay to have medical check-ups.

Regarding negative demand, Marketing91 writes:

The marketer has to solve the issue of no demand by analyzing why the market dislikes the product and then counteracting with the right marketing tactics.”

Unwholesome demand

With negative demand, customers do not desire the product even though they might need it. Unwholesome demand, however, is the other way round.

With unwholesome demand, the customers should not desire the product. Even so, they want it badly.

People watch pirated movies even though they know this is unfair for movie makers. Groups tell everybody how dangerous smoking is, but millions of people still go out and buy cigarettes.