Abraham Maslow's Theory Applied To Marketing

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Theories Applied to Marketing
Rukaiya Aliyu
Dr. Smith
American Intercontinental University

Abstract: This paper discusses Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs and how it is applied to marketing. It lists the theory in order from the least important basic human need that is easily attained, to the most important need that is most difficult to attain. Very few individuals are able to achieve this feat in their lifetime. It discusses how marketers use this theory as a tool in order to persuade potential consumers into buying and remaining loyal to their brand. It also highlights the stages of the consumer behavior model and how the concepts affect the marketing effort. Lastly, this paper discusses integrated marketing communication (IMC), which is the concept that all elements of the marketing mix communicate messages to consumers, its pros and cons and how it affects the marketing cycle.


The impact of technology in todays marketing world can be described as phenomenal. Marketers have all the gadgets and tools readily at their disposal to reach consumers far beyond territorial boarders. Marketing, as well as business is now a global interaction where companies and their consumers are able to interact in real time, taking business, as we know it to greater heights. Theories such as Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, discussed in this paper, gives marketers a psychological approach to marketing. The consumer behavior model also discussed in this paper is an important tool for the marketer. This gives them insights to the steps through which consumers go through before finally purchasing a product and using it. The final topic covered is the integrated marketing communication, a tool used by marketers as a way to influence their potential buyers into purchasing their product.

Maslow’s hierarchy presents marketers with a powerful tool in which they can use a psychological approach to target their consumers desired stage of needs. Because customers are all different in the stages it takes for them to purchase a product, the hierarchy helps the marketer determine where to begin. The emergence of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another, more pre-potent, need (Maslow, 1943).

In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation in which he identified five human needs and ranked them in a hierarchy (Gunelius, 2013). This hierarchy of needs identifies five primary needs commonly seen within humans, listed from most important to more aspirational (marketingweekly.com, 2014). The bottom most need is the physiological need, which includes people’s need to survive such as food and water. Second is safety needs, which are things that give us a sense of security in all aspects of our lives including health, family, having a job and so on. The third need is love and belonging. These are needs humans have related to relationships, family and friendships. The fourth is esteem needs including self-esteem, confidence, respect of and by others, and personal achievement. This need, like love and belonging, is emotional and happens in both our conscious and subconscious minds. At the very top of this pyramid of needs is the need for self-actualization, which refers to personal growth and realizing full human potential. This need is very subjective and highly personalized (Gunelius, 2013).

Consumers are interested in buying a brand not just the product. It is the job of the company to deliver consistent brand experiences that consumers can trust (Gunelius, 2014). Presenting a consumer with an idea that a product or service falls in the scope of a need, will lead to stronger and faster consumer action. According to the article, The Psychology and Philosophy of Branding, Marketing, Needs and Actions, human psychology and how it affects consumer behavior is the foundation of brand building. Maslow’s hierarchy