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For UK financial advisers use only. This information has not been approved for use with customers. If you are a customer, please go to aviva.co.uk

Customer motivation/needs/requirements

People have a range of needs/motivations that act on their decision to purchase

At the moment when a purchase is being considered, needs change:

What needs does your customer have?  Take this example:

  1. His stated need: The customer wants an inexpensive car.
  2. His real need: The customer wants a car with low operating costs. The initial price of the car needn’t be low.
  3. His unstated need: The customer expects good service from the dealer.
  4. His need to feel special: The customer would be delighted to receive a free atlas with the car.
  5. His secret need: The customer wants to be seen as a savvy negotiator.


See this toothpaste example from consumer needs based segmentation.

B2b segmentation by need.


Buying behaviour and Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Depending on the circumstances, your customer/prospect will give some greater priority to one need over another (for example, safety before hunger before status).

Buyer behaviour is focused upon the needs of individuals, groups and organisations.

These needs/motivations were studied by Abraham Maslow, resulting in his hierarchy of needs, below.

The hierarchy is triangular. This is because as you move up it, fewer and fewer people satisfy higher level needs.



  • Starting at the bottom, physiological needs such as food, air, water, heat, and the basic necessities of survival need to be satisfied. 
  • At the level of safety, man has a place to live that protects him from the elements and predators. 
  • At the third level we meet our social and belongingness needs i.e. we marry, or join groups of friends, etc.
  • The final two levels are esteem and self-actualisation.

    Fewer people satisfy the higher level needs.

    Esteem means that you achieve something that makes you recognised and gives personal satisfaction, for example writing a book.

    Self-actualisation is achieved by few. Here a person is one of a small number to actually do something. For example, Neil Armstrong self-actualised as the first person to reach the Moon.

Is more analysis required?

  1. Understand your customer by segment.

  2. Use research to try to understand what will give them customer value, and therefore customer satisfaction.

    For your market understand why people buy (or why people in business buy).

    customer satisfaction survey will help you understand what you are doing right, and not so right.

  3. Once you understand their current needs/motivations, try to work out:
    • Their future needs.
    • What they would be prepared to pay more for. And how much more.
    • What information they would need to commit to this purchase.
    • What distribution methods they prefer.

People usually make buying decisions based on one or two overriding criteria (see buying behaviour B2C or B2B).


Finding the primary need

Use a simple trade-off question to find out the primary need.

In a trade-off you might give the client/customer 20 points to allocate across a list of eight criteria.

The trade-off method is often a quicker way of getting to the answer than getting them to rank the given criteria, or give each a score out of ten.



See B2C needs based segmentation. B2B needs based segmentation.

Why people buy and why business people buy.