The Significance of Maslow’s Motivational-Need Theory
in Consumer Decision-Making
Name: LIN FEI
Course Title: CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
Instructor: ARLENE NEWBIGGING
Motivational-need theories have been essential in developing various models that are used in defining consumer behaviour (Solomon, 2009). For instance, Maslow’s need hierarchy theory which states some specific needs need to be fulfilled by an individual before needs that are higher in the hierarchy becomes salient. In this case, the interrelationship between the needs that individuals have in the society is specified. According to Maslow’s need hierarchy theory, the physiological needs come first, followed by security needs, social needs, self-esteem needs and finally the self-actualisation needs (Maslow, 1965). In the recent past, learning and aesthetic needs were added into Maslow’s need hierarchy theory. In this case, the attitude of an individual is known to elicit arousal and it gives direction to the behaviour of individuals which in turn defines their decision-making process in buying. Though the motivational theories have been used extensively in human resource management, and thus making motivational theories to be rarely applied in consumer research, recent developments and the increase in the understanding of various the essence of motivational theories have enhanced the application of these theories in consumer research (Solomon, 2009). For instance, the realisation of the consumer needs, desires and wants depends on the level of an individual’s motivation has made Maslow’s need hierarchy theory to receive significant popularity for it is relevance in the marketing concept, despite the overwhelming evidence refuting the existence of such hierarchies. This essay presents a critique of the application of Maslow’s need hierarchy theory in the consumer buying process based on the relevance of the provisions of this theory today. 2.0. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory and consumer behaviour In consumer behaviour, it is hard to figure out what drives various decisions among the customer. The key issue is that, the consumers have a crucial need that requires to be fulfilled. This is a key motivation for marketers since it will make the consumers spend as they satisfy their needs. When there is dissatisfaction among the consumers, they fight to ensure that they are able to satisfy their needs by covering the void that results from the imbalance created by lack of satisfaction. In one of the theories by Rodgers (2003) which were aimed at challenging Maslow’s need hierarchy theory, Market Rodgers summed his theory by stating that, brand strategist employ the use of Maslow’s model as a mean through which they define and build on needs that brand X fulfils. Based on this hierarchy need theory of motivation, an individual needs to satisfy the lower level needs in order for them to proceed to the higher growth needs (Oleson, 2004). In this case, Maslow stated that each person is capable of moving up the hierarchy and every person strives to do this. However, it is unfortunate that the progress among individuals is interrupted by their failure to meet the lower level needs (Rodgers, 2003). Some circumstances that people find themselves in make them to take decisions that do not observe the hierarchy needs as described by Maslow. For instance, celebrities may begin with the basic physiological needs in the society and they loop the other stages to the stage of self-actualisation which is a need for recognition (Wier & Smed, 2000). Similarly, events like divorce or loss of job can make a person to fluctuate between the different levels of hierarchy needs. Maslow’s hierarchy theory of needs is frequently used by marketers in explaining the nature of demand expected from the customers in the market. Maslow’s hierarchy theory was developed in a way that it indicates what drives the needs that...
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