Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs – Real Life Illustration

My wife loves cooking (yes, I am lucky). She has recently bought a creme brulee caramelizer but upon bringing it home and trying to get it to work, she has realized that the butane supply has not been included. So we went to Lowes for butane today.

We’ve found a shopping assistant and asked him where we could find the gas. He didn’t know and asked another (an older, and what seemed to be a more knowledgeable) guy. Upon receiving directions from the other guy, he said: “Let me show you where it is.” So we followed him. We walked through several isles, reached the “tools” section, but then the guy took a sharp turn  and disappeared in the restroom. The first thing that flew out of my mouth (I literally exclaimed it out loud to my wife) was “He just went to the restroom!!” The second thing that popped into my mind was Abraham H. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Do you remember it? In case you need to refresh it, here’s the pyramid:

Patrick Montana and Bruce Charnov in their Management volume write that Maslow believed that a “degree of satisfaction” of the lower level needs is “required before a need ceases to preoccupy the individual to the exclusion of the higher needs.” (p. 240) Obviously, in my today’s experience, the physiological need of the shopping assistant overcame the need of self-actualization! The “problem solving” gave way to “excretion,” and hindered the development of the former. What a vivid illustration of how things work!

2 thoughts on “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs – Real Life Illustration”

  1. Happy to see you referencing Maslow. As a marketer, I am fascinated by the scientific (and the unscientific) study and analysis of needs and human motivation. Your “gave way to excretion” tickled me.

    Suggest every marketer read Cialdini’s “Influence” after either understanding Maslow’s HON or reaching a modicum of self transcendence (obviously you’ve done both).

    See you in New York.

  2. Pat,

    Thank you for your comment. Glad you’ve enjoyed my post. 🙂

    Yes, Cialdini’s book is definitely a must-read for every marketer. You’ve first mentioned this book to me at ShareASale ThinkTank 2007 (in Scottsdale, AZ), and I’m grateful you did.

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