Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Learn all about it!

To understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is to try to understand a little better the complexity of the human being: his deep motivations, his fears, and his needs.

By better understanding the human being in front of us, we can more easily help him satisfy a need by responding directly to this request. 🤗


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Definition

Maslow’s pyramid, also known as Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs, is a theory of human motivation proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s.


This theory suggests that human beings have a set of needs that must be met in order to reach their full potential, which he also calls “self-actualization.”

Maslow’s pyramid represents these needs in a hierarchical form, with the most basic needs at the bottom ⬇️ of the pyramid and the more complex and higher needs at the top. ⬆️

What the psychologist tries to explain with this representation is that as long as certain vital needs are not respected, humans cannot fulfill other needs.


What are the 5 levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs Pyramid?

Level of the Hierarchy Needs Description
1st level Physiological or primary needs Basic needs necessary for survival; food, water, sleep, heat, and air.
2nd level Safety needs Needs to feel safe and protected; physical and personal safety, job and financial security, emotional security…
3rd level Social or belonging needs Needs to feel connected to others, to be loved, and to be part of a group; friendship, family, community and team membership.
4th level Self-esteem needs Needs to feel valued, respected, and appreciated; self-esteem, recognition, social status, and respect from others.
5th level Self-actualization needs Needs to achieve one’s full potential, personal growth, and goal attainment; creativity and creation, autonomy, problem-solving, curiosity, and emotional and practical self-control.


👉 According to Maslow, lower level needs must be met before higher level needs can be pursued, also called “primary needs” and “secondary needs”.

Thus, to reach the level of self-actualization, an individual must first satisfy his or her physiological, safety, social, and self-esteem needs.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Updated

As we said, there are 5 levels on the pyramid of needs, also called “Maslow’s pyramid”.

Maslow's hierarchy of Needs

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1st Level – Physiological Needs

Having physiological needs is common to all living beings. Even plants with water and sunlight. 🌱

Physiological needs are the basic needs necessary for survival, such as food, water, sleep, heat, and air. This level is the base of Maslow’s pyramid and is considered the most important (I don’t need to explain why.) 😆

According to the theorist, if these needs are not met, the other levels cannot be reached. ❌

💡 For example, if you have a visceral need to sleep, you are absolutely not going to be able to focus on your need to belong or your creativity. Core needs to take precedence over higher needs.

To meet physiological needs, a person must have access to sufficient food and water, as well as adequate shelter from the elements.

Once these needs are met, one can move on to the next level.


Level 2 – Safety Needs

Once physiological needs are met, safety needs become important. Security needs to include personal security, job security, and financial security. I would add emotional security as well, in some cases.

Individuals need to feel safe and protected from physical and emotional dangers to move forward in Maslow’s pyramid.

Sometimes these needs can come first – especially when there is imminent danger. If there’s a killer in front of a water fountain, no matter how thirsty you are, you’re not going to rush over to get some water. 🚰 Humans know how to prioritize their needs according to situations. 😜

To meet the needs of security, a person must have access to secure housing, a stable job, and sufficient income to support themselves. Meeting these needs allows a person to feel safe and therefore, seek out other needs.

Once housing is obtained, improving one’s security needs could be related to insulating windows, an alarm system, a full-time job, and a family car with a backup camera.


Level 3 – Social or Belonging Needs

Social or belonging needs to include the need to feel connected to others and to be part of a group. 🤗 So we think of friendship, family, community, and belonging to a team.

Individuals need to feel loved and accepted to be happy. 🌞

Moreover, according to the longest study ever conducted on happiness, this would even be the most important point, the one to insist on “having a good life”.

To meet social or belonging needs, a person must have meaningful social relationships and a support network. Meeting these needs allows a person to feel loved and accepted and to focus on higher-level needs. 🎈


4th Level – Self-Esteem Needs

Self-esteem needs to include the need to feel valued, respected, and appreciated. This can include self-esteem, recognition, social status, and respect from others.🤓

Again, it’s all relative! If you don’t feel respected by others, your sense of belonging will also be impacted.

Each need fits together and works together to create harmony.

To achieve this need, the first step is to have healthy self-esteem, recognition of one’s achievements, and respect for others.

Satisfying these needs allows a person to feel good about themselves, and know how to set boundaries (ask for respect from others, feel comfortable), and focus on the 5th stage, that of self-actualization, that’s all. 😎


5th Level – Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs Self actualization

Self-actualization needs are at the highest level of Maslow’s pyramid. ⛰️

These needs involve reaching one’s full potential, personal growth and goal achievement, i.e. a meaningful career, artistic or need for creative fulfillment, being able to be independent, and to create and pursue attainable goals. It also involves feeling autonomous and in control of one’s life and history.

The human motivation par excellence would then be to accomplish oneself, to realize oneself, according to Maslow.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory in Marketing

Maslow’s pyramid can be useful in marketing and sales, as it allows us to better understand the motivations and needs of consumers.

By using this theory, you can adapt your approach to meet the specific needs of your prospects at different levels of the pyramid. ⛰️


⬇️ Here is an example of an advertising campaign that addresses physiological needs (and also comfort needs, thanks to delivery).

Grocery Delivery Advertising | Online Grocery Ads | Gourmet Ads

Similarly, if consumers have unmet safety needs, they may be concerned about their personal and financial, or even health safety. 😨


Which of Maslow’s Human Needs are related to our environmental health?

In the case of environmental and personal health, companies can highlight safety guarantees, warranty services, return policies, and secure payment systems, and “chemical-free” guarantees to meet these needs.

⬇️ This new type of security is called “environmental security” and is becoming more prevalent.

Finally, for consumers at higher levels of Maslow’s pyramid, such as self-esteem needs and self-actualization needs, companies can create products and services that help consumers feel valued, respected, and fulfilled. 🌞


⬇️ For example, you can highlight the benefits of products and services that help consumers achieve their personal goals, such as online training programs, health and wellness apps, or luxury lifestyle products.

Nike dévoile sa nouvelle publicité "You can't stop us" réalisée avec un mix d'images de ses ambassadeurs -

In short, Maslow’s pyramid can help you sell better and better understand consumers’ motivations and needs, which can help you design advertising campaigns and products that meet those needs and improve the effectiveness of marketing strategies.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Examples

Here are real life examples of each need in Maslow’s pyramid and a case study of a company that meets that need:


What are Physiological needs? Definition and example

Physiological needs are basic survival needs such as food, water, air, sleep, and shelter.

💡 Example: McDonald’s meets this need by providing cheap fast food for people who don’t have the time or means to prepare a meal.

The brand has developed a fast food system to meet the needs of its customers. The meals offered are easily accessible.

McDonald's Brings Back Buy 1, Get 1 For $1 Deal - Chew Boom


What is Maslow’s basic safety needs?

Safety needs include the need to feel safe and secure from harm.

💡 Example: Verisure is a French security company that meets this need by offering security systems. Verisure uses state-of-the-art technology to protect their customers’ property and monitor their home or business remotely.


What are social needs? Maslow’s Definition of Belonging Needs

The need to belong is the need to feel accepted, loved, and understood.

💡 Example: Facebook fulfills this need by providing a social networking platform where people can connect with friends and family members. The platform allows people to share photos, videos, and stories, stay in touch with friends, and meet new people.

Le cours de la Bourse de Facebook chute à Wall Street et fait perdre 100 milliards de dollars à Mark Zuckerberg - EasyForma


Self-esteem needs

Self-esteem include are the need to feel valued and respected.

💡 Example: Adidas addresses this need by providing high-quality sports products to help people achieve their personal goals. The brand also sponsors professional athletes to inspire people to pursue their dreams and excel.

Adidas Ads on Behance


What is self-actualization needs?

Self-actualization needs are the needs for personal achievement and fulfillment. 🌞

💡 Example: Google fulfills this need by offering a search engine that opens its doors to thousands of knowledge, providing access to a vast amount of information and education on various topics. Google also offers online learning programs to help people develop their skills and achieve their personal goals. 🤗

In the same vein, companies that offer training and coaching for personal or professional projects will directly support the need for self-realization.

It is often said that as long as all our other needs are not fulfilled, it is impossible to focus on our personal development, that’s why it is the 5th and last step.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explained with Patagonia

They Call It - Patagonia Campaign on Behance

I present here a specific case study on a company that tries to satisfy the needs of consumers, it is, of course, not the only company that meets several needs, both basic and superior.

The Patagonia company meets all the types of needs on Maslow’s pyramid.


Conclusion: What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

In conclusion, Maslow’s pyramid is a widely recognized model that helps to understand the basic needs of people and therefore, of consumers. It can be used in various contexts, including psychology, human resources management, marketing, and sales.

Several studies have examined the validity of Maslow’s pyramid, and some have questioned its relevance or universal application.

🤓 For example, a study by Wahba and Bridwell (1976) showed that needs do not always follow a strict hierarchy and can vary across individuals, cultures, and contexts. (I would have put the link to the study, but it’s in German.) 😆

💡 Which makes sense, the links intertwine and can vary from day to day, a person who is very wealthy, but only has insomnia may not be interested in their personal accomplishments until they fix their physiological problem.

Despite the criticism, Maslow’s pyramid remains a useful tool for understanding basic human needs. It can help companies design products and services that meet the needs of their customers and motivate their employees by providing safe and satisfying working conditions.

For this reason, we strongly advise you to create personas in order to better understand the needs of consumers. ⏬

Create my marketing persona



Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs PDF

Many of you want to download Maslow’s pyramid in PDF, and today it is possible: 🤓

Download Maslow's pyramid in PDF for free


Build your own Pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Now it’s your turn to do the exercise by filling your pyramid with the needs of your consumers, candidates, or yourself. 🥳

And there you have it, you know everything about the different steps to satisfy human needs, from the first levels to the top of the pyramid. 🏔️


FAQ: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need

How to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to sell?

This pyramid is primarily used to identify: 👇

  • What needs do your products or services meet?
  • What are the needs of your sales targets?

Above all, these two needs must be the same. If you answer the need for security, but your target is in full need of social belonging, you are going against his demand… 👀

In sum, understanding customers’ motivations and needs using Maslow’s pyramid can help salespeople personalize their approach and highlight the relevant benefits of their products to meet these needs.

💡 There are other types of approaches to selling, such as AIDA and CAP SONCAS.

See more sales methods


Once you have practiced what is called “needs recognition”, you just have to argue accordingly to explain to your prospect that your products or services that he has identified.


How to understand the motivation Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at work?

Maslow’s pyramid can be used to understand work motivations as a hierarchy of needs that employees seek to satisfy. 🎯

In this case, it is assumed that some people have “food” jobs to meet their physiological needs and others have “passion” jobs, which contribute to their self-actualization.

Understanding where team members (or the candidate) fall on the pyramid of needs will help to better understand their motivations. In order to better satisfy their personal needs, they will be offered career development opportunities based on their motivations.

💡 For example:

  • Need for success = Increase in responsibilities.
  • Social need (belonging) = The opportunity to work in a team.

Now you can use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand the needs and motivations of your consumers. 🥳


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