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