Relate Maslow's hierarchy of needs to a person's decision to buy Coca Cola.  

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Maslow's hierarchy is a psychological concept that seeks to understand why people make certain choices or engage in particular behaviors. On this hierarchy, the lower levels must be satisfied before an individual seeks to achieve higher levels. There are various reasons why one might want to purchase a Coke, so...

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Maslow's hierarchy is a psychological concept that seeks to understand why people make certain choices or engage in particular behaviors. On this hierarchy, the lower levels must be satisfied before an individual seeks to achieve higher levels. There are various reasons why one might want to purchase a Coke, so here are some of those based on Maslow's hierarchy, beginning with satisfying the most fundamental needs:

Physiological needs: In this case, a person's core survival needs are not being met. Therefore, a person purchases Coke because he or she is thirsty. And not just in an I-kind-of-feel-like-grabbing-something way. This is the I-cannot-think-of-anything-else-but-thirst way. The person is either dehydrated or is close to it. I personally avoid soda, but if I was dehydrated and Coke was the only option, I'd of course take it. When a person's physiological needs are not met, he'll purchase a Coke to meet a survival need.

Safety needs: Consider a woman out shopping alone who suddenly believes that someone is following her. She may duck into a restaurant, grab a Coke, and sit in a public area to avoid being alone until the danger has passed. In this case, the purchase of Coke met her safety needs.

Love and belonging: I really see this factor at play with many of the high-energy drinks on the market today—and more so than I do with lower-caffeinated sodas. There is a belief in some circles that one must purchase a certain type of drink in order to fully belong to the group. In some families, there is a strong divide between Coke families and Pepsi families. A person wishing to feel accepted in these situations may purchase a Coke to feel that she is accepted as part of the group.

Esteem: If a person is having a party and needs soda for guests, she may stand in front of a display with two basic choices: Coke and a generic brand. She may choose to purchase Coke if she believes that it generates a better image of herself (i.e. not making her look too frugal). The Coke is more of a status symbol to her, and she leaves the store feeling better about herself through her purchase.

Self-Actualization: If Coke runs a promotion that one of its cans has inside a message for a free trip to Italy, this could be appealing to a person whose has dreamed of such a trip for decades. Therefore, even if she isn't a soda drinker, she may purchase Coke in the hopes of winning the contest and traveling to Italy.

It is really interesting to consider what motivates people to make the decisions they make—even when the end result (in this case, the exact same purchase) is the identical.

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This is a really interesting question because of how many levels of Maslow's hierarchy that Coke purchase might fit. The hierarchy of needs is comprised of five levels of human needs, and it is most often depicted as a pyramid. The lower levels are needs that must be obtained before a person can move onto the next tier, and the needs move from physical needs to mental and emotional needs until the top tier, of self-actualization, is reached.

The Coke purchase might indeed serve as a bottom-tier physiological need. If a person is in desperate need of calories or hydration, the Coke could fill that need in a pinch. It's not necessarily the healthiest option, but it would work. The caffeine present in the drink might also reduce or eliminate headaches or other caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Those physical symptoms being relieved have a natural way of helping meet psychological needs. When your body feels good, your emotional state tends to follow suit. Being in physical discomfort has a tendency to sour a person's mood. The drink itself might also bring with it a sense of belonging in a group dynamic. If everybody at a party is having a Coke and "opening happiness," then a person could feel a better sense of belonging and love within the group by having the Coke and fitting in.

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From a marketing perspective, Coca-Cola could appeal to a number of different needs at different levels of Maslow's hierarchy to make a soda seem like an appealing purchase.

At the lowest, physiological level, Coca-Cola could make its drink appear to be the most effective way of quenching severe thirst. This may be why you see so many Coca-Cola ads in places that are popular in the summer, like baseball games and water parks.

Higher up in the hierarchy of needs is a need for love and social belonging. Coca-Cola frequently exploits this need in its ads. When Coca-Cola portrays its sodas being consumed at a party or family gathering, it is emphasizing that sharing a Coke can bring people together. Coca-Cola has employed several slogans during its history that play on this need, such as "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" and "Open happiness." Coca-Cola ads often invoke warm, comforting memories that play into the need for social belonging as well (e.g., the annual polar bear ads around Christmas).

Finally, the need for esteem and the need for self-actualization top Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Coca-Cola frequently appeals to both of these needs as well. The "esteem" need relates to our need to be respected and admired by others. Coca-Cola makes its sodas seem like desirable status symbols—the type of drink consumed by those with good taste—to appeal to this need. Examples of former Coke slogans related to the "esteem" need are "You can't beat the real thing" and "Sign of good taste." The "self-actualization" need, at the top of Maslow's hierarchy, relates to our need to be our best selves and achieve our full potential. Coca-Cola appeals to this need by making Coca-Cola products seem like part of a full, happy life. For instance, think of ads that show people engaging in adventures like travel, surfing, or rock climbing, or slogans like, "Coke adds life."

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Although one might think that buying Coca Cola is related to the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy, it generally is not.  At the lowest level of the hierarchy, people are pursuing their physiological needs like the need to eat and drink.  However, Coke is not mainly a way of satisfying these basic-level needs.  There are many other ways to quench thirst.  Therefore, the decision to buy Coke comes out of other levels of the hierarchy.

Specifically, the decision to buy Coke comes largely from people’s esteem needs.  This is the second-highest level of the hierarchy.  At this level, people want to feel like they are worthwhile and like people respect them.  They want others to think that they are “cool.”  This is where the decision to buy Coke comes in.  Coke tries to market itself in a way that makes it seem like a product that cool people would buy.  People then buy Coke largely because they like the image that it projects.  They want to associate themselves with Coke because they feel that it will make them seem cooler and more important to other people.

Thus, while some may buy Coke to satisfy physiological needs, much of the reason why people buy Coke is based on the desire to fulfill esteem needs.

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