Without considering consumers’ motivation, cognition, and emotion in their experience journey, companies are likely to fail. Lee pointed out that apart from product knowledge and attitudes regarding a brand, other factors influence consumers’ purchase and brand choice decisions.
The hierarchy of needs theory proposed by the psychologist Abraham MASLOW in 1943 may offer some clues. According to this theory, human needs can be classified into three major types: basic (physiological, safety), psychological (love and belonging), and self-fulfillment (esteem and self-actualization). People take certain actions to fulfill these needs (Figure 2). Marketers frequently draw on Maslow’s hierarchy to develop their advertisements targeting consumers’ needs at different levels of the hierarchy.
“It turns out that the basic needs of food, water and shelter continue to drive people’s consumption behavior in the form of self-regulatory goals long after these basic physiological needs are satisfied,” said Lee. Regulatory focus theory, a theory of motivation and self-regulation proposed by Prof. E. Tory HIGGINS, suggests that people’s fundamental need for nurturance fosters a promotion goal, while their fundamental need for safety is conducive to a prevention goal.
These two distinct types of regulatory focus—promotion and prevention—influence people’s decisions, according to Higgins. Those with a promotional focus are goal-oriented and sensitive to positive outcomes, and they prioritize advancement and achievement, whereas those with a prevention focus tend to be vigilant, seeking safety and security, and focus on duties, obligations, and responsibilities.2
“Nurturance needs give us a promotion goal, whereas security needs give us a prevention goal,” Lee explained. “Together, these goals form the ‘self-regulatory goals’ that guide our behaviors to serve fundamental needs and, most importantly, achieve our consumption goals.” Taking the example of buying a car, Lee suggested that buyers with a salient promotion goal will focus on the car’s performance, whereas those with a salient prevention goal will pay more attention to its safety features.