No matter who you are or what you do, there’s a common force that’s driving that shapes your emotions and behavior. It determines how you live, the quality of life and ultimately your destiny.
This universal force is the human need. Irrespective of where you are in the world, what culture you are from, what color, status, background, we are universally driven by our human needs. We can break it down to 6 areas of human needs. They are unconscious needs that automatically drive us.
Of these 6 needs, you can view them into two broad categories. One group is the primal need and the other spiritual need.
There are 4 human needs in the Primal needs group. These are the needs you would seek to fulfill as a base and drives every one of us.
First need is the need of Certainty. Everyone wants stability about their basic necessities like food, shelter and other material resources. When people cannot control their physical circumstances, they seek certainty through a state of mind such as religious faith or positive affirmations.
Second need is the need for Variety. People have a need to change their state to exercise their body and emotions. They seek variety through different ways like change of environment, physical activity, mood change, change of people they interact with, entertainment and others. The need for variety sometimes runs into conflict with the need for certainty.
The 3rd need is the need for Significance. Everyone needs to feel special and important in some way. People seek significance through recognition from others or from themselves. Some people meet this need in a paradoxical way. Some people when they feel insignificant or helpless will go out to get others to recognize how significant their problems are and how helpless they are. This ironically raises their significance, just by getting people to acknowledge the enormity of their problem and their helplessness.
The 4th need is the need for Love and Connection. We all need to feel connected with someone or something be it a person, an ideal, a sense of identity. Connection may take the form of love or just engagement. One can still be connected by means of an aggressive interaction.
That was the 4 Primal needs. The next 2 are classified more in Spiritual needs.
The 5th need is the need for growth. Everything in the universe is either growing or dying. Many are not satisfied spiritually unless our capacities are expanding.
The 6th need is the need for Contribution. Just as we survive through the contribution of others (our parents for example), we seek to be spiritually fulfilled through contribution.
The fulfillment of the spiritual needs gives rise to more sustainable joy versus momentary pleasure associated with just fulfilling the primal needs.
There are many ways that people find to meet these needs whether they are positive, negative or neutral ways. We unconsciously act to fulfill our needs and some actions may fulfill a subset of these needs or all of them. When we have a behavior that fulfills at least 3 of these needs, these actions are considered strongly addictive or sometimes known as habits as they fulfill more than half of your needs. Again, these actions can sometimes be positive, negative or neutral to ourselves.
So how do we use this knowledge in marketing?
In evaluating what you are providing, look at if you are fulfilling any of these human needs and especially if you are able to meet at least 2 to 3 of the 6 at a high level. That’s when you have a compelling story or offer that fulfills a person’s strongest desire.
Look at how they market a high end car like a BMW. You are sold on just how great the engineering of the car and how its handling gives you unsurpassed confidence (CERTAINTY) in any condition on the road. Its safety features protect you (CERTAINTY) like none other. Its various controls, gadgets and funky designs allows you to change your experience (VARIETY) whilst you are driving. The name of a BMW says something about you being an owner and driver who is discerning (SIGNIFICANCE) and accords you with some stature. You will be part of a BMW Club (CONNECTION) where you get to meet other owners and go on driving trips or specially, exclusive invited events (SIGNIFICANCE).
Another message that is put forward “By buying a BMW, you are actually doing yourself and your family a great favor by providing them the best technology and safety for their transport” (Contribution and Certainty). If you want to upgrade your skills as a driver, you can be provided a special free pass to BMW Driving School (Growth). They have showroom with high class touches like a private cafe and lounge (Significance) where staff greet you by name and cater to you one on one.
I am just taking this an example of how I see the marketing of a marquee car hits on the different human needs and I took some liberties in some of the offers to illustrate the point. I live in Singapore where these cars are selling like hotcakes and yet we are one of the most expensive markets for cars in the world due to the taxes. So knowing the keys to market to the human needs can set you apart in providing value to a customer even in the most competitive market niche and create a rabid, loyal following, just like drivers of BMW.
Note: I do not represent the view of the manufacturer or have anything to do with BMW.
Copyright 2006 Alvin Toh