Perhaps the most important thing to take away from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs is his realization that all human beings start fulfilling their needs at the bottom levels of the pyramid.
In short, we fill our lower physiological needs first. Needs like safety, esteem, and social interaction are insignificant when one’s drive is to survive.
What is important to keep in mind is that these needs do not emerge in an all-or-none fashion; the majority of people in a modern society have all of their needs partially met, with the lower needs having a greater level of fulfillment than the higher needs.
The higher needs are, therefore, greater generators of desire than the lower needs. As Maslow noted, “Man is a perpetually wanting animal.”
The Drivers of Human Behavior
Maslow’s writings expose the underlying drivers of human behavior and decision-making. He never mentions “brand loyalty” in his books, but his Hierarchy of Human Needs and concepts like self-actualization are key to understanding why customers consistently choose one brand over another and why they build strong relationships with particular brands.
Moving Beyond Feature-Benefits
The makers of Cult Brands aren’t like mainstream marketers whose focus is largely on selling “feature-benefits” from the bottom of the pyramid to their customers. Rather, Cult Branders enjoy incredible loyalty because they work hard to connect with their customers at the very highest levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Cult Brands all have products and services with great “feature-benefits,” but their products and services also fulfill the higher-level needs of esteem, social interaction, and self-actualization found at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
The Key to Customer Loyalty
So, why is fulfilling higher level needs so integral to building customer loyalty? The answer: higher level needs influence future human behavior much more than lower level needs.
Businesses that can fulfill human needs on the higher levels of the hierarchy become irreplaceable in the mind of their customers. This is the key to customer loyalty.
True customer loyalty is not only about getting a customer to consistently choose your brand over another—it’s for that same customer to always believe (and tell the world) that your brand has no equal!