Study: Understanding Today’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ Among Consumers

Consumer behaviors have shifted greatly over the last few years to an online-to-offline or omni-channel experience, leaving brands in the dark about when, where and how to engage with customers in the most effective manner. These shifts in behavior have resulted in a new “hierarchy” of consumer expectations of brands.

A recent Blis survey of 2,000 consumers refers to this change in behavior as the “conscious consumer” as defined as:

The new breed of consumer created in the last recession who understands their value to brands and has perpetual access to an unprecedented amount of information in their purse or pocket, allowing them to make more informed shopping decisions.

Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a frame, the study revealed what consumers are looking for when deciding on a brand to purchase from. The most important, foundational need was product quality (64%), followed by price and availability/ease of obtaining (above). The data also detailed that promotional, functional and rational content are the most valued types of content among consumers.

As consumer expectations have risen, many have become less forgiving, with 55% giving brands only one chance for a mistake before moving on. Underperforming products, shady business practices and bad or unresponsive customer service were listed as the top qualities that turned respondents off about brands.

Although most consumers are still in search of a good deal, long gone are the days of blind purchasing. Consumers are now conducting thorough research prior to finalizing a purchase. In fact, 69% of consumers said they will research and price compare before making a purchase. For marketers, this indicates that customers can be influenced up until the moment of purchase, leaving a wealth of opportunity for presenting the right offers at the correct time.

As mentioned earlier, product quality remains the top value for consumers, as many are willing to pay more for a brand they regard highly (above). Half of the respondents reported that they would pay up to 5% more for a similar product from a higher end brand or store, while nearly a quarter said they would pay as much as 10% more.

This new hierarchy of needs insinuates that consumers are increasingly seeking value beyond a simple purchase. To succeed, brands must harmonize their efforts on engaging with consumers both in the long- and short-term, online and offline. That means producing relevant content for each distinct audience and leveraging that content at the correct time during the purchase journey.

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