Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Every marketer would do well to understand Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. First, people's physiological needs must be met, then their safety and security needs. Next, they need to feel as though they belong somewhere. After they have found their tribe, they seek the respect of others. When they become fully confident about their social status, they refocus their energies on achieving their highest potential, emphasizing ethics, creativity, spontaneity and other higher ideals. 

Most, but not all, brands focus on the top three rungs - love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Think of the brands that focus on belonging. Certain beer brands do this. Part of Harley-Davidson's brand position is the "comradeship of kindred spirits." Friends was a television show completely based on the concept of camaraderie. A significant portion of people are focused on achievement and self-esteem. Because of this, many brands primarily confer social status. Consider Mercedes-Benz, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. Others are focused on self-actualization. Patagonia and Newman's Own are examples of this. Some brands straddle different needs. Tesla operates in both the esteem/social status and self-actualization rungs as does Apple. With its fun designs and high price points, Vilebrequin also straddles the esteem and self-actualization rungs. Dove's Real Beauty campaign both promotes self-esteem and an enlightened view of "real beauty," causing it to span the top two rungs of Maslow's Hierarchy. Robert Graham's tagline is "knowledge wisdom truth." This, together with its highly creative designs, places it on the self-actualization rung.

Historically, Volvo focused on a safe ride especially for family members, putting it on the safety and love/belonging rungs. Because of its price point, it was also partially on the esteem rung. With its frequent repositioning over the past decade, its owners have pushed it up more to the esteem rung.

Where does your brand operate on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?


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