I bet you know the feeling when you really want to get something. Like a new jacket or just bottle of lemonade! I have learned that theory suggests that as humans and also as consumers we often base our decisions on needs. But what are these needs?
In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed theory of human motivations – hierarchy of needs. Hierarchy of needs contains five levels: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
- We need air, food and water or we die. These kinds of needs are physiological needs and at the same time the most important ones.
- Safety needs dominate our behavior. We want to feel personally and financially secure.
- Friendship, intimacy and family are very important because we want to feel loved and we want to belong to something.
- Respect is one thing that we need and sometimes we do things just to get some esteem and respect!
- And finally when we have all above we want to be self-actualized.
These same needs have been part of us from the day one. And I guess these same needs still affect our behavior.
I recently read an article that presents a theory that explains why consumers make the choices they do. It was called: “Why we buy what we buy: A theory of Consumption values” Sheth, Newman and Cross 1991.
The theory identifies also five consumption values which are functional value, social value, emotional value, epistemic value and conditional value. They all have influence on our behavior as consumers. This theory is based on Maslow´s theory among some other articles and studies.
In the article there was one good example that illustrates these consumption values. Let’s think that you just bought a house. What kind of values could be related to your purchase?
- If you think that a bigger house provides more space you made a decision based on the functional value.
- If buying the house was based on the fact that your friends are also buying houses the decision is based on the social value.
- Emotional value comes along if you feel secure in owning a home.
- Maybe owning a new house provides novelty to you. Then the decision is based on epimestic values.
- If you think that bigger house enables you to start a family your decision is based on conditional values.
All or just a one of the consumption values can affect on your decision.
So next time when you just got to get something, think for a minute… What are the needs and values that are driving your behavior?
Why we buy what we buy: A Theory of Consumption Values