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Why You Should Reverse the Maslow Pyramid as a Marketer

4 examples of brands promoting growth, love and belonging to their customers

In their quest for new ideas, marketers never ceased to look to psychology to understand consumer behaviour.

As they discovered Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they quickly adopt it as a consumer behaviour model explaining the primary desires of the mass.

Since then, consumption patterns in our societies have changed considerably, leaving more and more room for individual aspirations and collective dreams.

We need to reinterpret Maslow’s pyramid, as Scott Barry Kaufman explains in Transcend. We need to re-read it as a new classification of our needs: on one side, the essential needs for security; on the other side, the essential needs to develop and fulfil ourselves.

Maslow himself had anticipated an inverted pyramid, which put the endless desire to grow at the centre of individual psychology. What does it tell us as marketers?

Today’s marketing needs to adapt to an emerging need for a product or experience that makes consumers grow and learn. Individuals are now less looking for satisfaction as of transcendence, seeking an experience that allows them to go beyond themselves, to become more than what they are.

They are looking for brands emphasizing the value of exploration, love, belonging, and a sense of purpose. Perhaps the best types of marketing for the next generation will make us dream the most and give us the most hope for tomorrow’s world.

Here are 4 marketing cases that have succeeded in creating a truly transformative customer experience for which you can be inspired.

The North Face and the Passion for Exploration

Since its creation in 1966 in San Francisco, the North Face –called in the name of the most dangerous and steepest face of the mountains- has dedicated its clothing, footwear, and outdoor equipment products to adventurers and extreme sportsmen and women.

With its slogan “Never Stop Exploring”, its high-quality products allow hikers, climbers, trail runners, and outdoor enthusiasts to travel increasingly remote and elevated grounds, valuing perseverance and perpetual self-improvement.

Its brand has itself been involved in expeditions that have explored places on earth still untouched by man and have sponsored the greatest races and competitions in extreme sports.

Another important facet of the brand is the desire to protect the treasures of the beauty of this planet and inspire people to do so by promoting the beauty of the landscapes discovered by its greatest athletes.

With its project “It’s Great Out There”, The North Face promotes active exploration outdoors for everyone, encouraging people to grow through the discovery of open spaces and nature.

In doing so, it fully emphasizes the values of growth central to the brand, rather than a primary need for safety and comfort.

“The North Face was built on the love for the outdoors and the desire to enable all types of explorations. From your backyard to the Himalayas, over the last 50 years, we’ve lived by our true north, the belief that exploration has the power to change us, to challenge us, and to help us see the world from new perspectives.”

Subaru, Or the Love Brand

In late 2006 despite 40 years of successive advertising campaigns and a large number of agencies, the Japanese car brand Subaru was still little known in the American market, only two-thirds of America’s potential buyers even knowing the brand.

The new agency in charge of marketing had the genius idea of switching from rational arguments (good value for money, reliable four-wheel car) to emotional arguments: a campaign bringing all its consumers together around a common value: love.

“Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.”

Popular with dog owners and camping enthusiasts, the brand has gradually created ads showing the friendliness of groups of friends and family.

Having proven its success with the LGBT and lesbian community, it has also increased its efforts to make its cars and marketing more evocative of this specific audience, appealing to their sense of community.

“It’s not a choice, it’s the way we’re built”

“My Partner and I love our Forester”

Since then, their sales have increased significantly in all its ranges, making the company an expression of love and belonging for everyone.

Ikea and The Sense Of Purpose

Since the beginning, Ikea has been more than affordable, low cost, customizable and self-building products.

This Swedish company has brought a holistic vision of democratic design, offered to everyone, for all types of homes and people.

Its brand has always been concerned with promoting products that make people’s lives simpler and better. Their stores themselves are strangely familiar, taking us into a world that everyone can recognize and feel at home in.

‘’We have decided once and for all to side with the many… The many usually have limited financial resources. It is the many whom we aim to serve. The first rule is to maintain an extremely low-level of prices. But they must be lower prices with a meaning. We must not compromise either functionality or technical quality.’’

It is this sense of commitment that is actively involved in the essentialist vision carried by their founder Ingvar Kamprad- which is to waste nothing: no time, no space, no money.

Social and environmental impact is the company’s priority, with the search for the most sustainable and convenient materials possible, focusing on the primary source: life at home, which Ikéa claims to know best.

It is in the lives of ordinary, everyday people that Ikea wants to create an experience of learning, simplicity, and preservation. In all, this brand has understood that by making each of its consumers grow and learn they can build stronger loyalty around it.

“To create better everyday life for the many people.”

Everything is possible if you think in opportunities”

Lululemon, the Spiritual Brand

As a Canadian brand specializing in sportswear, Lululemon has always put the values of self-actualization almost like a spiritual impulse, at the heart of its message.

From the beginning, they have dedicated themselves to women who regularly practice yoga and meditation in groups, to provide them with clothing adapted and comfortable for their group and sports activities.

Calvin McDonald its founder is always seeking to make his brand as experiential as possible, with stores featuring gathering and community events, yoga, and meditation classes.

Its marketing team is well aware of the brand’s original spiritual value, encouraging both customers and employees to engage in personal development and self-enlightening experiences.

“The strongest value proposition a brand can deliver is a philosophical promise,” wrote Bethany Allee, vice president of marketing at Cybera. “Lululemon’s Sweatlife asks consumers to align with three core principals for living and health: sweating, growing, connecting. This is a brilliant way to drive additional loyalty with their already loyal audience.

Its products are marketed as convenient sportswear as well as embodying a lifestyle in its own right, bringing an entire community together.

Your turn to inspire yourself from these examples and build a spiritual and loving brand.

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