Why do people shop? How a consumer does assess his/her needs? What motivates them to choose a particular product over other? These questions are essence of marketing concepts, key for a given company to be successful, profitable and market leader. When a consumer engages in a trade (i.e. exchange a product/service for the money), it is mostly to satisfy a need. But what could be of interest to marketer here is that, consumer needs are sometimes unfelt to consumer, but it represents a great deal of opportunity to the marketer.

As the marketing evolves, production orientation transforms into marketing orientation, which revolves around what the consumer wants and how to elicit the unfelt need of a consumer. Need can be innate (basic biological needs) or it can be acquired (learned through society and environment).

Consumer motivation is defined as driving force within individuals that leads to an action. In marketing concept that action would be acquiring a product or availing a service, that fulfills their needs and wants. This motivated behavior is always goal oriented, that what exactly is required to satisfy a particular need. This is one of the reasons why marketer doesn’t just focus on what a particular need is, but inclined to represent their product and service as the only means of solution for a particular consumer need.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 

Maslow hierarchy of needs is highly significant in describing the consumer’s motivated behavior. According to this theory the basic physiological needs are the prime ones and must be satisfied first, before any other. Then comes the safety needs, social needs, egoistic needs and eventually self-actualization.

Stimulation of Motives

There can be different motives for a consumer to behave and chooses a product. There is physiological motive-that is bodily motives that must be met first, and vary considerably over period of time. For example one may not be hungry all the time, but will encounter different needs even in particular day.
Sometimes random thoughts can lead to cognitive responsiveness of needs. Along with the cognitive arousal, environmental and situational arousal can play an important role in realization of a particular need. Such environmental cues may be a advertisement, store display, a sight or smell of a particular stimuli etc. environmental cues fluctuate for different cultures and different family background as well.

Dynamics of Motivation

Needs change with experience, learning and exposure. But the need motivated behaviors of a consumer never halt. Some of the reasons to explain the phenomena include: needs are never permanently satisfied. And even if it is considered that for a time span it is satisfied then new needs emerge as the old ones are answered. And what is critical here, is that success and failure in meeting up lays down the future course of action. Marketers must also understand that if they focused a particular need, and made huge promises than what a product/service can capable of, then chances are an unsatisfied consumer will lose faith in the product and substitute it with  an alternative one.

Marketers and companies should more actively be involved in researches using different tools that will help them gauge various motivational drivers.



Schiffman L, Kaunk L (2007) “Consumer Motivation” Consumer behavior Ninth Ed New York, Prentice hall, pg 80-109.

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