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  • Writer's pictureSanne Butterfield

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Marketing

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was developed by Abraham Maslow, a specialist in human behavioural psychology. The hierarchy was first developed to help explain the connection between basic human needs and human desires. These days his theory is often applied in Marketing to uncover the most central element in all marketing strategies: what are your customers' needs? (and how can we align our selling point with this?)

The hierarchy, often visualised as a pyramid split into eight categories. Put simply unless we have the fundamental basic human needs at the bottom of the hierarchy we will not strive to meet any further desires. As each requirement is fulfilled we move up a level. If marketers know the wants and needs of their target market, then this can be used as a selling point to influence. It should be a part of every Marketing Strategy.

Physiological needs:

  • These are the underlying needs we as humans can’t live without. E.g. Food, water, sleep, oxygen etc.

Safety needs:

  • We all need to feel safe. Whether that be physically, financially or job security and health.

Belonging needs:

  • We all look for social connections in our community with friends and family.

Self-esteem needs:

  • We all desire to have respect and be respected by others, this includes self-esteem, confidence and a sense of self achievement.

Cognitive Needs:

  • We all have the need for information, knowledge and understanding. This need instils curiosity and inquisitiveness in humans.

Aesthetic Needs:

  • This need is for our search of beauty, appreciation, balance and form. It is a basis for self-actualisation because if someone is unable to appreciate the beauty of things, then moving to self-actualisation is extremely difficult.

Self Actualisation:

  • This is realising one’s full potential and this will differ from person to person. This is the almost highest level on the hierarchy and what we are all striving for.

Transcendence Needs:

  • Transcendence is a very spiritual level of needs. It means to help others to attain their need of self-actualisation.


For brands and marketers, Maslow hierarchy of needs theory can mean two things.

One: it motivates how a product or service will serve the various needs of the customer.

Secondly, the various needs help shape up the communication that brands indulge in while coming up with their promotional campaigns.

It is important to note that your target market’s level or needs and desires may not stay the same, especially in times of political and economic change. Therefore remember to keep your marketing strategy up to date and relevant.

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