In 1943, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his theory of The Hierarchy of Needs, a theory that is still relevant to understanding human behaviour today. In this theory, he shows that humans have different levels of needs that motivate them throughout life. Tapping into these different need states can help brands meet the right consumers with the right message at the right time.
In its most simplistic version, Maslow’s Hierarchy splits into five levels, each one needing to be met before a person can go on to meet the next. Level one is based on our physiology – the need for food, water, sleep and warmth. Level two is the need for safety, which includes shelter, financial and job security, and health. Next, psychological needs are introduced. The third level includes belongingness and love needs, such as creating social connections with friends, family and romantic partners. The next level up outlines esteem needs: the need to feel important, respected, purposeful or accomplished. The final level of human needs is for self-fulfillment. This includes any creative activities and, unlike with other levels, the motivation to meet this need only ever increases, even once this level is achieved.
Brands can effectively reach their audiences by feeding into multiple consumer need states. For example, Lidl’s price comparison campaigns tap into both the basic physiological need for food and the need for security of finance by demonstrating lower prices than competitors. On the other end of the hierarchy, Tesco’s “Food Love Stories” campaign focuses on the importance of food shared with others, tapping into level three and our need for social connections with friends and family. Understanding where a brand or product sits within these levels of needs can help to frame benefits for the chosen target audience.
the7stars’ Joydex tool can help to identify when a consumer might be most receptive to messaging around a particular need state. Using IPA TouchPoints data, the Joydex maps emotions over the course of a week, helping to pinpoint times of day when consumers are most happy, stressed, relaxed or feeling a whole range of other emotions. When a consumer is feeling stressed, messaging around basic comforts and securities might be more relevant, whereas in moments of happiness they may be more open to messaging around esteem or self-fulfillment needs. Paying attention to the context and mindset in which marketing messages reach consumers will ensure that they cut through the noise in a cluttered media landscape and land in a way that resonates with individuals.
– Katie Gebbie