I think that it depends what your needs are. If your skin is on the dry side, especially in the winter, I would get both. If your skin is not that dry, and you just want a light hydrator, then the lotion, would probably fit the bill.
If your skin is very dry, it would probably be best to go with a heavier cream. I use this product alone most days, so if you just want a nice, plumping, moisturizing, softening lotion with light density, this will work well. If you only want one bottle on your counter, I would choose something else, like the night cream, since it's more concentrated.
Get them both! They are amazing together, the essence is hydrating, it has great ingredients and I follow with the cream, divine!
This is more of a toner consistency. It will not do much to moisturize the skin. We recommend cleansing the skin, applying the daily lotion and then following up your regular moisturizer.