Maslow, We need to talk about your hierarchy

Maslow. Fond as I am of your Hierarchy of Needs, I think it needs a little review

When I was at college studying marketing, this was a classic piece for us to learn. Maslow proposes that as we grow and attain civilisation and wealth, we move up the hierarchy of needs.

But I think the model is still potentially relevant, just far more muddled than it used to be.

Replace the Physiological needs with getting the mortgage paid and staying out of fuel poverty and you cover a very large proportion of the population.

But what has changed in my opinion, and what matters to people who control brands, is that he progression through the hierarchy is no longer, well, hierarchical. I believe many people now jump from the bottom right to the top. I’ll explain.

For many this is as good as it’s going to get. If you have ever read the book ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ (you should) the reason for all his pain and violence is that even though he is from a normal middle class family, that just wasn’t enough. He wanted recognition too.

Change the word ‘recognition’ to ‘self worth’ and you have an important jump.

If this is as good as it’s going to get for many. They still want more. They want to know they are doing things with their life that have worth, that makes them feel good about themselves.

So for me, it’s an early trend. More people doing more good, creative and artistic things – not for profit, but for self worth.

So if you own or control a brand, it’s time to start thinking what’s in it for them. How can they feel better by hanging out with your brand.

Howies summed it up years ago in a mailer, when they asked whether I just had enough stuff. In truth, we all have enough stuff, so what I’m saying is that we need a little more thoughtfulness as well.

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