Thought Leadership
The centrality of consumer needs reviewed through Maslow’s eyes, desires lines and data, in Covid 19 times
Published on June 01, 2020
Categories Thought Leadership

In these years of consumerism, since we have gone from producing much more than what the demand would have required, the marketing manuals have transferred the concept that to be successful, as a Brand,  it was necessary to arouse new desires in people, for products or services whose need was not perceived until then. Creating the need was the key of the marketers, combined with associating this need simultaneously to a Brand, in order to be leader in new markets and segments of products/services that satisfy needs that had not been previously recognised.

These products and services were often placed at the top of the Maslow pyramid, to stimulate consumers to buy products and take advantage of services that made them feel part of a community, socially accepted, or pioneers in the adoption of a product or a completely new service.

For years, communication has sustained brands in generating many needs that today, during the pandemic, would fall into one category:  the "non-essentials".

Maslow's pyramid returns suddenly to the forefront, re-discussing the paradigms of the offer of products and services, by reviewing the approach and the response of the Brands to the needs that are at the base of the pyramid: the supply of food, safety related to one's health, contact with loved ones , and so on...

Being an "empathic" brand, today, means having understood that answers first must be given to the basic needs, challenged by the pandemic. Consumers’ attitudes need to be drastically reviewed, by understanding the new fears and the new key elements that guide the choices dictated by this unprecedented scenario.

During the lockdown phase, the demand for yeast and flour has grown exponentially, given that people, obliged to stay at home, have started cooking more, especially with the aim to make bread and having it fresh on the table every day, since it is no longer possible to leave the house daily to do the shopping ...

Yeast and flour therefore satisfy a primary need linked to the most common and fundamental food on our tables and, at the same time, they respond to a need higher in the pyramid, which is to find new sources of gratifications at home, like cooking for the family or for themselves.

The communication at the time of Covid 19 is therefore addressed to the satisfaction of needs that we have taken for granted for years, but without which, individuals have no reason to satisfy those higher in the pyramid.

 A clear and essential hierarchy, already valid in 1954 for Maslow but also proven at the time of the Corona Virus and which leads us to review the way we communicate and, in the media, to rethink the consumer journey.

Today more than ever, analysing consumer behaviour becomes a great challenge, because the starting point is new, i.e. the emotions that play a role in the purchase decision-making process for goods, services and habits of the "new normal".

There is constant monitoring of consumer attitudes in the various product areas; our commitment is to intercept individuals’ "desire lines" in reaching the identified new needs.

The "desire lines" are a powerful metaphor of how, thanks to technology, access to information and the diversified offer of goods and services, people reinvent the way to approach the brands, to discover and browse the categories and interact with others, thus giving rise to personalised paths, very often unforeseen and far from what Brands have predicted for them.

The new desire lines born from the pandemic, are the result of how people have rapidly managed to adapt to an entirely new situation of restrictions and constrains.

The research done has made it possible to identify new needs, such as that of "connecting" by video call to be closer with family, friends and colleagues for dinners, aperitifs or business meetings. Another rising need has been the one of "entertainment" at home, with streaming content but also gaming, concerts and connections with authors, actors and singers directly from their homes. More time available to dedicate to oneself has also proved useful for "learning" new things, looking for all kinds of tutorials on the internet, from recipes, to online courses, from DIY to music, to virtual museum visits, without forgetting the attention to the "physical well-being", via fitness and yoga classes at home.

The new desire lines, traced by people in search of the satisfaction of these needs, are more than ever under our observation in order to support the Brands in identifying, from the start, new behaviours, attitudes and trends, inevitably brought out by new scenarios, especially in cases of total breakdown such as this of Covid 19.

The analysis takes place in two ways, from direct observation of people, their daily lives, fears, emotions, thoughts, to that of navigation data which confirm and integrate what is possible to observe on a more limited sample of people.

There are no similar case histories or pre-packaged solutions that can be easily applied to support Brands in this task of accompanying people to reach the top of Maslow's pyramid once again. On the contrary, we are building and honing the “cases” day by day by adding the sensitivity in interpreting "people", to the monitoring of what we extrapolate from data, that validate our intuitions and support our daily and challenging adventure to discover what is most fascinating and complex on heart: "the human being."



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