Fundamental needs

A typology of the things that every person in the world pursues.


Although people may have different goals and wishes on the surface, deep down they all want the same things. Regardless of culture, age, and lifestyle, every person shares a set of fundamental needs. But how can we classify them, and use them to improve wellbeing?

Needs drive us all

Needs are the foundation of our motivation system, and all human activity is essentially fueled by the aspiration of need fulfilment. For us to flourish we need to fulfill all those needs. The fundamental needs typology includes 13 psychological needs and 52 sub-needs. These are the basic requirements for us to function. They are also the nutrients for our development and a vital source of meaning and happiness.

The fundamental needs typology can help in making need profiles which then serve as a lens to evaluate the needs fulfilled (or thwarted) by new or existing designs.

What is the fundamental needs typology?

Products, services, buildings, systems, and other human-made entities are essentially instruments for need satisfaction. They affect the need fulfilment of every single person (including the designers) involved in their ideation, development, execution, distribution, and usage practices.

The fundamental needs typology can help when making need profiles which then serve as a lens to evaluate or measure the needs fulfilled (or thwarted) by existing designs or new concepts.

Fundamental needs offer different design opportunities:

  • Strengthening current needs
  • Introducing new needs
  • Reducing harmed needs

Because the principles behind people’s needs are universal, they can be applied to every type of business. We have created propositions in domains such as food, healthcare, home care, finance, mobility, media, and smart electronics.

Illustration made by Levi Jacobs.

Find out more about fundamental needs typology

Visit our need typology website to discover more about the 13 fundamental needs and their nuances.

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