Marketing Theories - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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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.

The hierarchy, often visualised as a pyramid is split into five 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 the hierarchy.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
  • 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.
  • Social needs:
    • We all look for social connections in friends and family.
  • Esteem needs:
    • We all desire to have respect and be respected by others, this includes self-esteem, confidence and a sense of self achievement.
  • Self actualisation:
    • This is realising one’s full potential and this will differ from person to person. This is the highest level on the hierarchy and what we are all striving for.

Maslow’s hierarchy in marketing:

If marketers know the wants and needs of their target market (which every good marketer should!) then this can be used as a selling point to influence.

A great deal of research is undertaken to segment, target and position (STP) customers by various criteria such as demographics, social class, geographic and so on. From this marketers will have a very specific idea about who their target consumers are and tailor their marketing strategy accordingly.

For example a car manufacturer targeting young families is not likely to focus on the top speeds and luxury items in their advertising campaigns but instead on the cost effectiveness and safety features.

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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