Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides a smart logic and focus on understanding your consumers’ needs. The best marketers gain comfort in exploring the psychology models to help with how consumers see the world, whether borrowing Carl Jung’s archetypes to help define a brand’s personality or Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to tap into the mindset of consumers.
As famous as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there is very little scientific basis to the idea. That’s ok. We are only borrowing the concept, not psychoanalyzing an individual. In theory, Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belonging and love”, “social needs,” or “esteem,” and “self-actualization.”
The basic thoughts for marketers are that consumers will focus on their basic needs before they can reach for things like esteem or self-actualization. During the coronavirus pandemic, we can even see how we return to our basic needs of food, shelter, safety, even ahead of status or money or using fashion as an expression.
Going beyond Maslow's Hierarchy
As a brand leader, you can learn from the basics of Maslow’s Hierarchy, but let’s twist it into something workable for you. Above, you can see how I have turned Maslow’s Hierarchy zones into three functional need types, including the day-to-day needs, impact on your life, and belonging. And, this leads into three emotional need types, including trust, expression, and realization.
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A brand positioning statement starts with the consumer target your brand will serve. And, it should focus on the emotional and functional benefits your brand will stand for. Finally, brands need to find that space that moves consumers to drive growth and is ownable for your brand.
Transforming Maslow’s hierarchy into functional needs
To start, let’s discuss the functional needs of your consumers:
- First, the day-to-day needs include “works better for you,” “simplifies your life,” and “helps your family.”
- Second, the life impact needs include “getting smarter,” “saving you money,” and “health.”
- Third, the belonging needs include “staying connected,” “sensory appeal,” the “experience you get.”
Below, we have expanded on each of these functional needs to help you begin thinking about your brand positioning. Look for the ideal functional benefits to differentiate your brand from competitors.
Functional consumer needs
Now, let’s look at the consumers’ emotional needs from the vantage of Maslow’s hierarchy:
- First, the trust needs include “how to stay in control,” “feel myself,” and “self-assured.”
- Next, you move up to the expression needs that include “feel free,” “get noticed,” and “feel liked.”
- Finally, move up to the realization needs, including the “curiosity for knowledge,” “sense of optimism,” and “feel comfortable.”
Below, you can find an expanded list of emotional needs to focus on your brand positioning. Use these ideal emotional benefits to differentiate your brand from competitors.
Emotional consumer needs
Consumers have changed
It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. These beloved brands are so exceptional because of how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved.
The consumers of today must be won over. They are surrounded by the clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 million per year or one message every 11 waking seconds.
Consumers are continuously distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—and all at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant, or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a brand idea that is simple, unique. It must create as much excitement as a first-time encounter.
Consumers are tired of being burned by broken brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization.
Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips
Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management
Brands must be consumer focused
The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work every day so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes a firm conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs, and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so firm that the brand would never make a choice that directly contradicts their internal belief system. Consumers start to see, understand, and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand.
Brands must listen, observe, and start to know their consumer’s thoughts before they even think them. Not only does the brand meet their functional needs, but the brand must also heroically beat down the consumer’s enemy that torments their life every day.
Borrowing from Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs will help you organize your thinking on our consumers’ needs
Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips
Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand.
- To start, we will challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy.
- Then, we take you through our process for defining your brand positioning. We will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see you can differentiate your brand. And, we use examples of brand positioning statements to bring the learning to life.
- Next, we will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. Make sure all stakeholders know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success.
- Moreover, we will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work.
- Finally, you will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review.
Above all, over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management.
Our Brand Toolkit has every template slide you need to run your brand
If you are running a consumer-driven brand or you are a consultant looking after clients, our Brand Toolkit has every PowerPoint slide you would need.
- Our comprehensive Brand Toolkit package has over 120 PowerPoint slides with templates for brand plan presentations, brand positioning presentations, and business review presentations. You will get slides for a creative brief, brand concept, brand credo, and brand story.
- You will get blank slides for you to populate. Each line has key definitions. And, we provide a fully completed brand toolkit using Gray’s Cookies.
- Bonus: We include reading on strategic thinking and how to write brand plans from our Beloved Brands playbook with many of our models in our Brand Toolkit.