Maslow’s hierarchy needs as a theory for online marketing

By Sayan Mitra & Priya Chetty on August 26, 2019

Maslow’s hierarchal need is known as a theoretical psychology concept which deals with five stages of the human need in a pyramid (Lee & Hanna, 2015). The basic needs of the human being comprise:

  1. psychological needs,
  2. safety and security needs,
  3. love and belongings need,
  4. self-esteem needs and,
  5. self-actualisation (Harrigan & Commons, 2015).

This model remains used by the businesses to target a particular group of customers through social media by community or group for promotions.

Maslow hierarchal need is derived from the Veblenian socio-psychological theory. It is focused on the cultural and social factors that are mainly applicable for niche customers. The theory of reasoned action deals with the decision of customer buying on the basis of the contemporary situation and subjective norms where requirements do not emphasize. The buying behaviour has changed due to improvement in technology. The want for products or service evaluation remains possible through the theory of Maslow’s hierarchal need.

Understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Abraham Harold Maslow was a psychologist from the USA who had derived the hierarchy of needs of the human being based on the human psychological aspects. The optimal of the diversified customer base remains evaluated through the identification of their demands, choices, and pattern for delivering the product (King-Hill, 2015). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs focuses on the behaviour and attitude of the consumers from all segments which helps to set the pricing policy (Rasskazova, et al., 2016). These needs analyses and evaluates the pattern of the shopping behaviour of the customers. Maslow has identified five basic needs which remains applicable in the online marketing aspect for various category product like;

  • psychological needs,
  • safety, and security needs,
  • love and belongings need,
  • self-esteem needs
  • self-actualization needs.

Basic items such as medicines and staples remain considered as the basic requirements that reflect the psychological need. On the other hand, insurance, retirement, alarm system and investments cover the safety concern of the human being (Fallatah & Syed, 2018). Other products such as clothing, drinks or clubs pass aligned with the customer belongingness. The ego need of the Maslow’s hierarchical model comprises of products or service of credit cards, cars or furniture. Self-actualization needs are applicable to tourism and education (Yan, et al., 2016). Marketers focus on targeting a wide range of customer base on the digital medium by identifying patterns on the Maslow’s need for hierarchy.

Components of the theory

Marketers of the medicines have targeted the psychological needs of the aged and retired buyers by offering discounts that are not available in a physical store. Furthermore, security concerns of the potential buyers are targeted by marketers of the insurance business (Fallatah & Syed, 2018). Similarly, the marketers of grooming products, cloths follow unique content creation for social media promotions (Chen & Qu, 2017). The design of the products remains directed with the trends on the digital medium which helps with brand recognition. Furthermore, collaborating with social media influencers has also helped to gain the attention of customers. The marketers of cars, diamond, furniture, and liquors target the niche customer base focussing on customer ego and social status (Yan, et al., 2016). On the contrary, the self-actualization aspect of Maslow’s model remains followed by the marketers or promoters of education. 

Use of the theory by Amazon in India

Amazon has an active 50 million internet users per day in India (BBC, 2013). Amazon has analyzed the pattern of customers very closely and started delivering the product in that dimension. The E-retailer has also started its entertainment and media platform to attract the millennials to improve brand recognition and belongings. Amazon has identified the constraints of Indian consumers for online shopping to not being proficient and having enough trust for basic requirements. So, Amazon has opened local kiosks for the simplification of the business process (Forbes, 2018).


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