Consumer Motivation

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At present, understanding consumer motivation is very important to marketers in modern marketing. However, the key to consumer motivation, understanding the consumer needs is the first factor that marketers should know at first. “Human needs or, in this case, consumer needs are the basis of all modern marketing. Needs are the essence of the marketing concept.”(Schiffman, 2008). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a well-known theory in psychology which can help marketers understanding the consumer needs better. So, what is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It was suggested by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of human Motivation, which was described in a triangular diagram. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often divided five levels: “At the bottom are the basic needs for food, water and air. Then, above them is the need for safety, security and protection. After theses needs have been met, an individual has a need for love, affection and friendship. When these have been satisfied an individual may seek status and self-respect and, finally, at the top of the pyramid is the need for self-actualization or self-fulfillment.” (Shaw, 2002). Though this explanation we can see that only the lowest needs (physiological needs) are satisfied, people will focus on the higher needs.(Chinadaily BBS,2007) That is the basic concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. However, based on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, each level needs have some limitations, not each need can completely satisfy. Therefore, “if a lower set of needs is continually unmet for an extended period of time, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs - dropping down to that level until those lower needs are reasonably satisfied again.”(Chinadaily BBs, 2007). It is clear to see that differences in need priorities can influence human behavior.

Differences in need priorities can influence consumer behavior in difference ways. Though Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can see that When one level is fulfilled, people naturally moves to the next. However, “If some needs are not fulfilled, a human's physiological needs take the highest priority. Physiological needs can control thoughts and behaviors.”(Chinadaily BBS, 2007). For example, when people cannot satisfy their physiological needs, it will motivate them work hard to satisfy their basic needs. These consumers’s purchasing power always lay on psychological needs of hunger and thirst such as food and water. They only focus on those goods which is cheaper or durable. For these cohorts, the marketers should put attention in prices of goods. Like supermarket, always introduce some home-make brands to meet the need of theses cohorts. Next, when physiological needs are met, the needs will come to safety. These consumers pay more attention on safety, such as healthy food. After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the social needs will emerge. At this level, people hope has warm and satisfying human relationships with the others. They may pay more attention on making up themselves, so the purchasing powers tend to focus on the goods of social contact, such as clothes and shoes. As to the four level needs, esteem needs, people have higher pursue. “According to Maslow, all humans have a need to be respected, to have self-respect, and to respect others”. (Chiandaily, bbs, 2007). Therefore, in order to satisfy this need, a person who is in this level may seek fame or glory, such as wearing famous brand clothes as a symbol of status. Lastly, when all of the four lower levels are met, people will come to the highest level, self-actualization needs. At this highest level, all of lower needs will no longer be priorities, in other word; self-actualization is to achieve one’s biggest potential. (Chiandaily, 2007). For example, some largest companies use motivation-based promotion to encourage their highly paid employees to find gratification and self-fulfillment except their pay cheques in the workplace. “To view...
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