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The 16 Key Human Desires for Marketing

By Sean Mari Sagun, Founder at SM Social • Published October 31st, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, one thing remains constant: understanding your customers is the bedrock of success. It's the North Star guiding your ship in a vast sea of opportunities and challenges. Without this profound understanding, your marketing strategies are as aimless as a compassless vessel drifting on the open ocean.

Steven Reiss, a renowned American psychologist, delved into the depths of human psychology and unearthed the 16 key human desires that steer our actions and decisions. These desires are the driving forces that propel us forward, and the beauty lies in their distinctiveness from person to person. As marketers, we can harness these primal desires to make a profound impact on our audience.

So, what are these 16 Key Human Desires, and how can they transform your business strategies? Let's set sail on this voyage of discovery and explore the intricacies of human motivation.


The 16 Key Human Desires Unveiled

Human desires are as diverse as the people themselves. Steven Reiss distilled these desires into 16 core motivators, and they shape our perceptions and choices in ways that are both predictable and unique. To comprehend the essence of human motivation, we must delve into each of these desires.

Desire #1: Power

End Goals: Achievement, competence, leadership
Associated Emotion: Competence, influence
Behaviour: Leadership, achievement

Desire #2: Independence

End Goals: Freedom
Associated Emotion: Freedom
Behaviour: Self-reliance

Desire #3: Curiosity

End Goals: Knowledge, truth
Associated Emotion: Wonderment
Behaviour: Truth-seeking, problem-solving

Desire #4: Acceptance

End Goals: Self-worth, positive self-image
Associated Emotion: Self-confidence
Behaviour: Assertive behaviour

Desire #5: Order

End Goals: Stability, organisation
Associated Emotion: Security, stability
Behaviour: Rule-making, perfection-seeking, compulsive

Desire #6: Saving

End Goals: Collection, property
Associated Emotion: Ownership
Behaviour: Collecting, frugality

Desire #7: Honour

End Goals: Morality, loyalty
Associated Emotion: Loyalty
Behaviour: Character, morality, principle

Desire #8: Idealism

End Goals: Fairness, justice
Associated Emotion: Compassion, sense of justice
Behaviour: Social causes, fair play

Desire #9: Social Contact

End Goals: Friendship, fun
Associated Emotion: Happiness, belonging
Behaviour: Parting, joining clubs/groups

Desire #10: Family

End Goals: Children
Associated Emotion: Love
Behaviour: Parenting, homemaking

Desire #11: Status

End Goals: Wealth, titles, awards, attention
Associated Emotion: Self-importance, superiority
Behaviour: Concern with reputation, showing-off

Desire #12: Vengeance

End Goals: Winning
Associated Emotion: Anger, hate
Behaviour: Aggressive, Revenge

Desire #13: Romance

End Goals: Beauty, sex
Associated Emotion: Lust, appreciation of beauty
Behaviour: Sexual, flirting, courting

Desire #14: Eating

End Goals: Food, dining, hunting
Associated Emotion: Hunger
Behaviour: Eating, dining, cooking

Desire #15: Physical exercise

End Goals: Fitness
Associated Emotion: Vitality
Behaviour: Physical activity, sports

Desire #16: Tranquility

End Goals: Relaxation, safety
Associated Emotion: Safety, sense of peace
Behaviour: Avoids stressful situations

Creating Content that Resonates

So, you're a creator, and you want to maintain a thriving relationship with brands and stay relevant. How can you do that? The answer lies in truly understanding the desires of your target audience and aligning with brands that share those values. But how do you go about it?

Here's a step-by-step guide to creating content that resonates with your audience:

• Market Research: Dive deep into your target audience. What do they desire? What drives them? Identify their key desires.

• Customer Personas: Create detailed customer personas. Understand the demographics, psychographics, and, most importantly, their emotional drivers.

• Alignment: Once you've identified these key desires, align yourself with brands that share these values. This alignment ensures that your content and the brands you collaborate with are on the same page, making your partnership seamless.

• Authenticity: Be authentic in your content creation. Authenticity resonates with audiences more than anything else. When your content genuinely aligns with the desires of your audience, it feels real and relatable.

• Consistency: Consistency is key. Continuously deliver content that addresses these desires. Over time, your audience will come to expect and trust your content.

• Engagement: Encourage engagement. Use social media, forums, and other platforms to connect with your audience and understand their evolving desires.

By intentionally addressing these desires in your content, you not only create value for your audience but also build brand loyalty. This loyalty is the cornerstone of a thriving creator-brand relationship.


Final Thoughts

Understanding the 16 key human desires, as identified by Steven Reiss, is like unlocking a treasure chest of insights into human behavior. These desires are the driving forces behind our actions, our decisions, and ultimately, our satisfaction. Whether you're a marketer looking to boost your brand's success or a creator aiming to build a strong bond with your audience, harnessing these desires is the key.

By aligning your marketing strategies with the desires of your target audience, you can create content that resonates on a profound level, fostering engagement, trust, and loyalty. Remember, it's not about addressing all 16 desires at once, but rather about identifying the ones that matter most to your audience and building your brand's narrative around them.

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