Why Businesses Should Serve Consumers’ ‘Higher Needs’

Snapchat received a $10 billion valuation this week, joining an ever-increasing number of young IPOs and startup companies that are meeting consumers’ evolving needs to create extraordinary value for investors. How can Snapchat, Uber and Airbnb be worth so much? An answer to that question may come from an unexpected place. American psychologist Abraham Maslow is best known for his seminal research on the hierarchy of innate human needs, but his work also has a surprising application for businesses models and shareholder value, according to Barry Libert, Jerry Wind and Megan Beck Fenley, who wrote this opinion piece. In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed his formative work on the hierarchy and progression of human needs, “a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.” Maslow insightfully noted that the human hierarchy of needs spans from the tangible, such as food and water, to the intangible, such as self-esteem and creativity.

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