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Application Of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs For Consumer Behaviour

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Based on Maslow’s theory, consumer needs sets the core foundation for all aspects of marketing. (Schiffman, 2008) Interpreted as the connection between basic human needs and desires, companies can control their consumers’ behaviour and decision-making process by linking their basic needs-motive to induce certain types of behaviour towards the end goal. Hence, I will show these 3 brand examples of how this theory is applied in the market.

Brand Example 1


McDonald brothers opened their first outlet in 1940, San Bernardino (California) believing that customers should be fully satisfied by catering to their tastes, lifestyles and choices. It transformed into an international hit, expanding worldwide, opening their first restaurant in Singapore in 1979.

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According to Maslow’s pyramid, McDonald’s falls under the 1st tier (Physiological Needs) as it relates to the most basic instinctive needs of the human body. For instance, the McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” influences the customers’ perceptions into treating themselves with McDonald’s if they deserved it. Since McDonald’s is the 1st restaurant to break out of America, it evolved into an international hit by selling food fast and fulfilling the basic human need to eat. Thus, becoming a socially acceptable norm to perceive it as a food option driven by society’s needs, making it into a success.

Brand Example 2

Supreme – Louis Vuitton X Supreme Collaboration

Supreme is an American skateboarding shop and clothing brand from New York City catering to youth culture such as skateboarding, hip hop and rock culture. The collaboration of Louis Vuitton and Supreme became such a holy grail international frenzy for youngsters, creating a stratospheric status overnight.


Luxury goods falls under the 4th tier (Ego Needs) as it relates to consumers buying them to create an impression of expressing their identity to increase their self-esteem. (Pooler, 2003) It creates the sensation of being admired and acknowledged by others. (Cademan et al. , 2012)

When the LV Supreme collaboration came out, it became such a hysteria for the young generation as it was a value worth admiring – “hype”. The collaboration’s exclusivity transformed it into an ego need as they needed to own one to belong in the “in-crowd” eagerly. Hence, owning it fuels the consumers’ ego influence and acceptance, validating their high status and self-esteem.

Brand Example 3

TOMS Shoes

TOMS was founded in California, 2006 by Blake Mycoskie in California when he witnessed hardships of children growing up without shoes during his volunteer work. He advocated for a “One-for-One” model which donates to a child in need with a new pair of shoes for each one purchased, creating a sustainable for-profit business without relying on donations.


Humanitarian effort is situated at the peak of the pyramid (Self-Actualisation) as it represents people striving for meaning and empathy in the dissatisfaction faced by others’ unfortunate circumstances in life. (Frana, 2013; Huss & Magos, 2014). This is portrayed as enhancing and improving their current state of condition with a sense of purpose by providing products or services.

For example, TOMS Shoes provides the Gift of Sight with the help of medical professionals to prescribe glasses, perform eye surgery and provide medical treatments. Also, each of TOMS Roasting. Co Coffee sold provides the Gift of Water by supplying 140 litres of safe water supply a week. Hence, this sincere commitment fosters and satisfies the sense of self-actualisation by involving oneself in the dire state of others to improve their current state of living.


Given these examples above, the core of having a successful brand lies in shaping the consumer’s experiences and expectations with a value proposition underneath suited according to their different tastes. Despite companies knowing about their consumers’ purchasing behaviour, income and others, there is still little known about their perspectives induced by their interactions with products and brands. Therefore, companies must think creatively about their consumers’ individual experiences, knowing how to mould them accordingly as their decision-making process forms several layers of intricacies.


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