The marketer’s toolkit isn’t complete without Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory of what motivates people. The gist is that as our more basic needs are satisfied, we look for fulfillment progressively higher up the hierarchy. Brands that tap these higher-order needs can deepen their meaning with consumers.
The classic Maslow marketing case is Michelin Tires. Rather than focusing on durability and performance, Michelin filmed a baby sitting in a tire with the tagline, “Because So Much Is Riding On Your Tires”. Michelin focuses on our need for safety and family belonging.
Many brands claim to fulfill higher-order needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. Some overreach and come across as silly or out-of-touch. The proof I think is whether they can compete without deep discounting.
Doug Hall once said, “If you’re not meaningfully unique, then you’d better be cheap”. Many brands compete largely on price. Brands that truly fulfill higher-order needs around Belonging, Esteem, or Self-Actualization don’t need as many price promotions.
The level of trade promotion is a litmus test for meaningful brands.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)