The Hierarchy of Needs
If marketing is all about satisfying customer needs, we need to be able to identify what those needs are. According to American Psychologist Abraham Maslow (2), human motivations are ranked according to their necessity, starting with our basest physiological needs to more complex emotional and philosophical needs.
Our physiological needs are those we seek to satisfy first as they enable us to survive. Self-preservation is at the very core of every decision we make and even in modern society, this still plays a part. After all, we still feel hungry, thirsty, tired, vulnerable at times in our lives and many big brands appeal to these physiological needs to stimulate a desire to buy or even donate.
Examples: Snack foods, charities, sleeping remedies.
We care about our personal security and overall safety. Although we aren’t fighting off wild animals, our instinct to protect ourselves from harm is strong, whether it be financial, physical or otherwise. This ‘risk management’ means service-based businesses have an important role to play here.
Examples: Insurance, home security, outsourced HR and recruitment.
Love & Belonging
Moving up the hierarchy, we as mammals crave deeper satisfaction – a bond with others, whether it is a friend, a brother, a lover or a broader community. This is a more complex need compelling us to congregate within a ‘tribe’ of like-minded individuals often brought together by a common interest.
Examples: Networking, dating apps, live entertainment, sports groups.
Whether it be the pressure of society, family or even from ourselves, we all care (to a certain extent) about opinions. We are keen to ‘live our best lives’ and once more – be seen to be doing so. Social media is an obvious example of this, but there are many paths to satisfying this desire.
Examples: Training providers, videographers, success coaches.
At the top of the hierarchy is self-actualisation. This is the most complex and the most challenging to reach. Often we are not filling a hole that is missing, we are looking for MORE. We want to make a difference in the world by being the best version of ourselves and feel that our lives are worthwhile.
Examples: Volunteering, higher education, mindset coaches.