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Designing Products That Are Aligned with Human Needs: Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 

The application of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to product design is a widely acknowledged strategy. Abraham Maslow’s psychological theory, introduced in 1943, illustrates human needs in a five-tier pyramid model. Beginning with the most fundamental physiological needs at the base, the hierarchy progresses through safety, love and belonging, esteem, and culminates in self-actualization at the peak.

In product design, aligning offerings with these needs ensures a better understanding of consumer motivations. Satisfying lower-level needs first often enhances the appeal and effectiveness of a product. Understanding and applying this hierarchy effectively can significantly improve the design and reception of a product in the market.

About the theory

This theory aims to explore society and human behavior across social classes. Maslow’s idea, often known as Maslow’s theory, is commonly represented graphically in the form of a pyramid. The most significant and basic wants are at the bottom of this pyramid, while the desire for self-actualization is at the top. Maslow’s hierarchy of requirements states that an individual’s primary wants must be met before they acquire a strong desire or motivation for secondary or more complex needs. 

Physiological needs:

Meeting physiological demands, which include crucial necessities such as air, water, and food, is critical for human survival. These fundamental necessities, such as clothing and shelter, are required for the human body to function properly. Failure to meet these needs can jeopardize survival and health.

Safety needs:

Once basic physical demands are met, the focus often shifts to meeting safety requirements. These demands often include a desire for financial security, work stability, or insurance coverage. For instance, individuals look for risk aversion during economic uncertainty or employment scarcity, seeking to establish security in an unpredictable environment.

Love and social needs:

Once physiological and safety needs are met, attention often turns to social needs—the third tier in human requirements. This encompasses the urge for belonging and acceptance within diverse social circles, spanning community affiliations, religious groups, professional networks, and intimate relationships such as family or close friends.

Nevertheless, there are instances where social norms supersede basic needs. For instance, in cases of addiction, individuals might prioritize social acceptance over their health, neglecting their well-being to integrate into a particular peer group. This phenomenon underscores the power of social influence on individual priorities, occasionally overshadowing fundamental physiological and safety requisites.

Esteem Needs:

Esteem, a crucial human need according to Maslow, embodies the desire for recognition and value from others. Individuals inherently seek appreciation, confidence, and respect, aiming to maintain a sense of self-worth.

Maslow differentiates esteem into two facets: lower and higher esteem demands. The lower aspect entails craving for external validation—respect concerning position, notoriety, popularity, prestige, and attention. In contrast, the higher category encompasses internal sources of esteem—power, skill, mastery, self-assurance, independence, and freedom—emphasizing personal attributes rather than external recognition.

Self-actualization Needs:

Self-actualization, as per Maslow, encapsulates the pursuit of reaching one’s utmost potential and evolving into the finest rendition of oneself. It reflects the innate aspiration to fully explore and embody all capabilities, aiming to become the best possible version or a superior iteration of oneself.


Thorough customer research is pivotal to comprehend the anticipated functionalities of your product. Consumer research, encompassing diverse methods like surveys and social media monitoring, facilitates a comprehensive understanding of audience expectations.

In complex offerings like software or multipurpose products, gauging minimum user expectations is critical. This guides the pivotal initial design stage, ensuring alignment with fundamental user needs. Leveraging various research avenues, from direct surveys to nuanced social media listening, aids in crafting products that align closely with user demands and functionalities.

The Maslow-inspired Design Hierarchy of Needs serves as a solid foundation for product design, offering valuable insights. However, it isn’t exhaustive and may require supplementary exploration for comprehensive design considerations.

For instance, incorporating elements like product history or narrative could enhance consumer appeal, leveraging notions of prestige or tradition in branding. Such nuanced aspects might warrant inclusion in the design hierarchy.

Fundamentally, products cater to human needs, aligning with psychological frameworks such as Maslow’s Hierarchy. These theories provide a rich pool of applicable knowledge for product design, emphasizing both basic and intricate human necessities.

Snigdha Basu
Snigdha Basu
A multifaceted writer, Snigdha Basu is a freelancer and a columnist at Entrepreneurs Today. She also spearheads Chic Life Edition - her own Digital Magazine with sustainable fashion, beauty, and culture at its core. Reach out to Snigdha at [email protected] for inquiries.
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