Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs inspired designer Arthur Eger to develop his own theory of the demands that users place on products and services. This is quite logical: as a market matures, people’s needs evolve and consequently rise in Maslow’s Pyramid. Increasingly higher demands on products are the result. The experience and the story surrounding the product – and thus communication – are also becoming more important. I made a pyramid of the Product levels according to Eger. (Read on for an explanation of product levels.)
The needs at the top of Maslow’s Pyramid are individual, because they focus on self-development. Eger adds another phase to this: beyond self-development comes a holistic view of the world, with an eye for others, nature, etc.
Below an explanation of the Product levels according to Eger.
- Product fulfils its function in a minimal way. Sometimes flawed.
- Market with little competition. High margins.
- Optimising important aspects to positively distinguish from competition. Aspects such as:
- ease of operation,
- Market with multiple providers.
- Products offered hardly differ in price / performance ratio.
- Extras, such as accessories, must ensure positive distinction and added value.
- Design and detailing are becoming more important.
- Market with many providers.
- Almost everyone who can have a similar product, has one.
- Design and detailing are becoming even more important.
- Lifestyle and atmosphere are added to the product. (Think of transformational positioning; the story, communication becomes more important.)
- Product is made into a means of expression: the user can distinguish himself from others (who also have a variant of the product). He can show who he is and / or wants to be.
- Market: Promotion & Place become important to justify the Price of the Product.
- The user wants to be able to determine the design of the product himself.
- The products can supply the constituent parts, with which the user can assemble and / or design his own product.
- Market is saturated, there is a market for additional or constituent products.
- We are now at the very top of the Maslow Pyramid; self-actualising people:
- recognise deception and untruth.
- can put things into perspective better.
- are not afraid of the unknown.
- focus on problems outside of themselves.
- make their own judgment
- are independent of worship, status, salary, popularity, prestige.
- have no need to surround themselves with luxury items to impress their social environment.
- often have a feeling of compassion and fraternity with their fellow human beings.
- often have a sense of connection with nature.
- Products must meet requirements such as:
- good performance,
- good design,
- long lifespan; suitable for repair, upcycling, recycling.
- little environmental impact,
- good quality.
At this level we do not instantly see what makes the product special, but we understand this from the story around it. So communication is crucial.
- Eger, Arthur O. (1996) Succesvolle Productontwikkeling. Kluwer Bedrijfswetenschappen
- Eger, Arthur O. (2007) Evolutionaire Productontwikkeling, proefschrift. LEMMA
- Productniveaus – CommunicatieKC.com