understand the hierarchy of needs – WAU

Maslow’s Pyramid is a scheme that illustrates his famous Theory of the Hierarchy of Human Needs, one of the ideas in psychology that most influenced Administration disciplines. Understand the roots of this concept and how it can be worked on in different areas of management, marketing and sales.

The Maslow Pyramid or Theory of the Hierarchy of Human Needs is a concept in Psychology that has become one of the most widespread dynamics of Human Resource management.

It is based on the principle that human needs have a hierarchical relationship capable of directing the motivation of individuals to different types of satisfaction.

Although it is often used to define marketing strategies inside and outside companies, one of its essential benefits is a reminder of a truth, sometimes overlooked by managers and salespeople: we are dealing with people! People with different desires, urgencies and inspirations.

In this post, you will take a real plunge into the depths of human motivation to understand the essentials that govern our behavior and understand how Maslow’s ideas can – and should – be used to develop employees and attract more customers to your business. Come on?

The emergence of Maslow’s theory

The famous theory of human needs was developed and presented by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow, one of the most striking authorities of the so-called Humanist Psychology, an area dedicated to the study of human behavior and the forces that influence it.

Maslow’s first observations were made with monkeys. The psychologist realized that these animals radically altered their behavior according to certain physiological needs. Those who did not receive food, for example, were much more aggressive, but became docile soon after they satiated their hunger.

His studies also included research on sexuality and dominance in monkeys and humans, and the conclusions were made public in his work. Theory of Human Motivation (Theory of Human Motivation), from 1954, in which his famous Pyramid of Human Needs is illustrated for the first time.

The Maslow Pyramid layers

The Maslow Pyramid is a brilliant representation of its concept, organized in a didactic and functional way.

All essential human needs are described, from the physiological ones, which form the base of the pyramid, to the most abstract ones, at the top. Watch below!

maslow pyramid

Basis: physiological needs

Physiological needs are those linked to our survival, such as breathing, rest, food, hydration and sex. They are the most profound human needs and, when not met, they receive all the individual’s attention and energy.

Second layer: security needs

Having met their basic needs, the individual’s motivation will be focused on their security and self-preservation. This group includes physical protection, the search for shelter, stability, comfort, health care, among others.

Third layer: social needs

At the center of the Maslow Pyramid are social needs and, from here, psychological needs begin to predominate.

Having met their basic needs and protection, people then turn to their loving, family, marital relationships, among friends, co-workers, etc.

Fourth layer: esteem needs

On social needs, there is the motivation for acceptance, recognition, respect, prestige, authority, etc. In this phase, people look for ways to feel valued, whether in personal or professional life.

Top: self-realization needs

Finally, at the top of the pyramid are the needs related to self-realization, that is, the conquest of personal desires, such as freedom, wisdom, independence, overcoming, self-control, among others.

According to Maslow’s theory, the satisfaction of the needs mentioned on one floor of the pyramid encourages the individual to feel the needs of the upper layer more intensely.

On the other hand, it is enough that one of the needs of the lower layer is not being met for the individual’s motivations to turn to him instantly.

Hierarchically, therefore, we have physiological needs as our strongest need, followed by self-preservation, socialization, self-esteem and self-fulfillment.

This implies saying, for example, that a person whose physiological needs are not being met, will not give much importance to any other type until they meet those needs.

Maslow’s theory applied to people management

Starting from Maslow’s premises, what is expected of an entrepreneur or manager is that, before demanding motivation or productivity from his partners and collaborators, he understands his needs.

Note that goals and promotions, for example, fit at the top of the pyramid, that is, they are needs for self-realization.

In this case, if the employee’s previous wishes are not being properly addressed, it is unlikely that he will do his utmost to make his job or career at the company evolve.

Following this reasoning, we can adapt the information described in Maslow’s Pyramid to the professional context. In this case, we could list needs such as:

  • base: physical rest, mental tranquility, sufficient salary, comfortable hours for basic needs such as food, breaks and hygiene;
  • second layer: safe and welcoming place, environment and working conditions, stability, higher wages;
  • third layer: healthy relationships with colleagues and leaders, favorable organizational climate, mutual respect, friendships at work;
  • fourth layer: professional recognition, appreciation for results, power of opinion, increases, bonuses, awards;
  • top: participation in projects that you consider important, autonomy in your decisions, acting in an area you like, exercising your creativity, having more flexibility, etc.

Of course, there are several needs that are beyond the control of the company’s management, after all, people have their own conflicts and personal challenges. However, even if he cannot intervene directly, a comprehensive attitude from the leader can make all the difference. This is one of the pillars of humanized management.

The biggest difficulty for many companies is breaking the walls between the leadership and the work teams. In order to identify the needs of people who share space in an organization, it is essential to adopt clearer, open and horizontal internal communication strategies.

Maslow’s theory applied to marketing and sales

Maslow’s principles are further explored by companies that work with complex sales regimes and long-term communication strategies, such as Content Marketing.

Still, your ideas can help all types of business when we consider their potential to clarify the interests of the public. Look at that!

Understand audience motivations

If your audience is focused on security needs, for example, it is not interesting to work on your communication with arguments that only address social needs.

Likewise, there is no way to work on the self-realization of an employee if he is struggling to survive.

As you can see, this knowledge helps us to better guide our strategies and our dealings with people, whether they are prospects and customers, managers or employees.

By knowing their true desires, we are able to get closer to people and offer solutions that will really make a difference for them.

Understand consumer behavior

By understanding the needs that motivate consumers, it is possible to define the best moments to attract them or to approach them, always taking into account the fact that people are always trying to satisfy their current needs to “reach” higher levels in the pyramid.

Except in very specific cases, a company that works with the direct sale of water bottles or small refreshments, for example, will not be very successful in creating excessively motivational campaigns, as its ideal customer is one who just wants to quench his thirst quickly and without many rodeos.

Align marketing and sales strategies

If there is one thing that Maslow really makes clear to the areas of marketing and sales, it is that purely rational arguments are not enough. People’s emotions will always have a greater bearing on their behavior and decisions.

Strategies, therefore, need to be devised based on the audience’s needs and emotional response. In other words, we cannot stick to what the customer sees – you also need to understand what he feels when he comes across your content, offer or product.

Develop desirable products and services

Aligning the characteristics of your products and services with the main desires of the brand’s public, the chances of success are much greater. Surprising a customer is great, but meeting their expectations is key.

Essentially, what companies and professionals deliver are not products or services, but solutions. If you are not aware of the real needs of your persona, you will hardly be able to offer a solution capable of arousing people’s interest and motivating them to buy.

Criticisms of Maslow’s theory

Maslow’s concepts continue to be valid and widely used in several areas of knowledge, especially in people management. However, there are theorists who question the solidity presented in their scheme.

In fact, there is no clear evidence to support such a well-defined hierarchy of human needs and, therefore, some modern critics argue for a more flexible view of the concept, in which motivational priorities vary from one individual to another.

The theory remains an important reference for academic studies and for the definition of marketing, sales and management strategies. We just must not make the mistake of working its principles very strictly.

The Maslow Pyramid is just one of the concepts capable of making your company relate better with all its audiences, however, there are several other ideas that can also contribute to the success of your business.

Follow us and see now what mental triggers are and how to use them in your marketing strategy!