Shopping And The Six Human Needs Part 2

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits, Shopping Messages, Shopping, Clothes and Emotions

What drives human behaviour?  Why do we behave the way we do?  What ‘sits beneath’ our behaviour?  If we don’t understand what drives our own behaviour, and that of others, it’s almost impossible to change or influence that behaviour.

Whether you’re a boss, a marketer or a parent (to mention only a small handful of the roles in which an understanding of human behaviour is essential), what’s critical is that you appreciate that behaviour is not ‘just behaviour’ – it’s coming from somewhere.

Anthony Robbins has identified Six Human Needs and his thesis is that our behaviour is driven by one or more of these fundamental needs, or drivers.

The Six Human Needs

6 human needs


This is Part 2 of The Six Human Needs And Shopping – if you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

4. Connection

5. Growth

6. Contribution


Connection and Shopping

If a core need for you is to feel connected to others, then shopping can appear to help you achieve that – at least in the short term. There are many people in a shopping environment you can ‘connect’ with, however temporary or shallow those connections turn out to be.

If you are shopping for others, you can feel that your purchases are gifts, demonstrating how much you care for someone else.

It may be that the specifics of what we are purchasing make us feel more connected – by buying items that someone we know already wears, or has just purchased (even if that is a celebrity with whom we have no direct connection with whatsoever) it can give us a (false) sense of connection with someone (“see how ‘the same’ we are – we’re dressed the same!”).

Unfortunately, shopping (and overshopping) to have our need for connection met with never last, and can sometimes make us feel more disconnected and alone.

Growth and Shopping

Shopping can certainly appear to meet a need for growth. There can be a striving in shopping – having targets to achieve, items on your wish list you want to acquire.  Many online shopping sites have a ‘Wishlist” button where you can earmark particular items you wish to purchase in future, however unrealistic that wishing may be (it’s a goal, right?  Well, that’s the feeling state they want you to have when clicking that Wishlist button!).

‘Shopping for growth’ could also be interpreted as identifying and aspiring to a certain standard of quality/brand that you want to be able to purchase – one day.  When you have the ability to purchase Brand X, then you will have really made it.  Or so the psychology (and persuasive language in marketing messages) goes.

Contribution and Shopping

Shopping a lot can meet a need for contribution, particularly if you are shopping for others – you may feel that your purchasing is meeting the very real needs of someone else, and it may provide a sense of philanthropy to buy in this way.

But that’s not the only way shopping (and overshopping) can seem to meet a need for contribution. You may feel that you are contributing to the economic health of the society in which we all live – after all, Retail Associations (and others in the money world – economists, forecasters, and so on) are often warning us against a “slowing economy” when consumers become “penny pinching” and don’t purchase at a rate of knots that would make your hair curl. Of course, this kind of “for the greater good” consumption often comes at an extremely high personal cost.

 Points to Ponder

Which of these 3 of the Six Human Needs would you say drive you the most when it comes to your shopping? If you are shopping to attempt to meet any of these 3 needs, what impact is this shopping behaviour having — on you, on relationships, on your finances?

All of these six needs are legitimate and need to be acknowledged and honoured.  What I’d encourage you to think about is: What are my legitimate needs and drivers?  And what other ways could those very legitimate needs be met, apart from shopping more and more?

Your life is too important to be spent — it should be lived, every moment of every day.  However ‘small’ or ‘large’ your goals and life is, it’s all yours.  You get to choose.  You get to choose what you do with your time, your talents, your attention, your money, your space, your precious life energy.  Choose wisely.

This has been a very fascinating topic for me to explore and write about, and I hope you enjoyed this two part series on Shopping And The Six Human Needs!


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    2 Responses to “Shopping And The Six Human Needs Part 2”

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Jill, Love this post and the previous one on the Six Human Needs! I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and attended his “Date with Destiny” seminar ten years ago, where he went into these needs in very deep detail.

      I recently came to realize that a lot of why I shop is for Connection. I work from home and don’t have a lot of close friends. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband, but I often feel the need to connect with other women. When I shop, I often chat with sales associates and other shoppers. I can feel like the salespeople are my friends, but deep down I know that’s not true. After all, I don’t see myself having coffee or lunch with them!

      Other needs which apply to me are Certainty and Uncertainty. I like the seeming stability of the shopping experience in the midst of a lot of chaos and instability in my life. But I also enjoy the surprise and treasure hunt nature of shopping.

      After years of overshopping, I now know that I need to find other more productive ways of getting my needs met. Your program was very helpful for me, as are your blog articles. Thanks for being a positive and encouraging voice for all of us “shopaholics” out there!

      • Jill Chivers says:

        hi Debbie – thanks so much for your comment and I’m so pleased you enjoyed these posts about the 6 human needs and shopping. It’s no surprise that something drives our (over)shopping behaviour, but to have such a clear and universal model is very helpful. And what you say about there being more than one (of the 6) needs that apply to you is also very interesting – that is true for me as well, and I’m sure for others who have had (or still have) a problem with overshopping.

        And the answer, if that word applies (because it implies it’s so simple, quick and easy, when it’s really a long-term process of change), is to firstly acknowledge and honour the needs. This is a really important step and can moved away from too quickly. Those needs got there for a reason, and we’re allowed to have them! In fact, they serve a very useful purpose. And secondly, to find healthier, more life enhancing and spirit enriching ways of meeting those needs – apart from more and more shopping.

        It’s my pleasure to be part of this important conversation about waking up to the ways in which we are spending, or living, our lives. Thanks for reading!

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