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Censydiam: Analyzing Consumer Motivation to Enhance Market Positioning

Digital Marketing
May 9, 2024
15 mins

Censydiam is a marketing tool used to study consumer motivation. Among other business growth strategies, it is often used at the stage of research and strategy development. Censydiam wheel helps businesses find unmet emotional needs of consumers while analyzing the niche and competitors. A company may then apply them in its positioning and communication strategy to stand out in the market.

The new article by Promodo experts analyzes the Censydiam model and its benefits for businesses.

What is the Censydiam Wheel?

The Censydiam was invented in 1987 by two Belgian researchers. The Model has been used to build business strategies by companies such as Coca-Cola, Heineken, and Volvo to name a few. Namely, the analysis methodology makes the Censydiam wheel unique. It uses values, motivations, incentives, and other psychological factors built around consumers and their perceptions of brands or products.

Motivation embraces core human desires that drive our behavior

The Censydiam model is shaped as a wheel with a vertical line featuring how we feel about ourselves, aka. personal dimension, and a horizontal line featuring social aspects of the role of society in this need, aka. social dimension.

The Wheel encompasses eight human motivations and needs:

1. Pleasure - impulsivity, fulfillment of desires, hedonism, carefree

2. Connectedness - connection with family, and friends, feeling close and building relationships

3. Belongingness - a desire to belong to a social group or system

4. Protection - the feeling of safety and security

5. Control - discipline, restriction, order, restraint

6. Recognition - rewards, superiority to someone or something, the desire to assert oneself and be unique

7. Power - the desire to lead others, be respected, and achieve a certain social status

8. Vitality - energy, strength to achieve more and gain new skills.

Consumer Motivations
The Censydiam Wheel

To understand how the Censydiam wheel works in terms of positioning development, let’s view it as a compass. Opposite motivations are polar. At the top (northwards of the wheel) we see one’s desire for Pleasure when we want to please ourselves and buy something like new shoes, but it is always contradicted by Control (southwards of the wheel) when we ask ourselves: “Is this purchase worthless? Perhaps, I’d spend on something else?” 

Once we look at the compass from the West to the East, we will see how a group’s desire for Belongingness opposes the Power that motivates us to control others and gain social status.

This polarity of desires is also seen in the remaining four motivations of the Censydiam wheel. Opposite to the need for Vitality and Discovery is the need for Security and Protection, and the opposite of Recognition is the desire for Connectedness.

At the intersection of consumer needs a brand may satisfy one or two needs. However, from the stance of effective communication, it is better if consumers associate a brand with the satisfaction of one need only. For instance, some brands in the candy bar niche communicate Pleasure, while others bet on Vitality to revive consumer energy. This helps to make the brand way more memorable in a consumer's mind. This is particularly true for those niches where local brands have to compete for consumer attention with international corporations, i.e. in the case of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Kateryna Husashenko, Lead Strategist at Promodo.

With an understanding of the way the Censydiam model is built, let’s dive deeper into core motivations and see how brands use them in their communication strategies.

Meaning of Motivation Vectors in the Censydiam Wheel


Defined: Pleasure is the impulsive desire to do something for yourself, hedonism, and life satisfaction. We experience this need when we turn off the rationale of our decisions and listen to our inner desires.

How does this relate to the brands? A simple example is L'Oréal's most famous advertising campaign: “Because you are worth it!” What do you feel when you hear this phrase? All inhibitions have been lifted and you deserve to buy a new beauty product, enjoy using it, and feel cared for.


Defined: A connection with other people that brings us a sense of joy and fulfillment. That's how the Censydiam wheel resonates with emotional needs. When you want to be with friends, family, or new acquaintances you want to learn more about them, interact with them, share experiences, and have a good time.

How does it work with the brands? The motivation of connectedness is important for brands that strategically bet on strengthening relationships, bringing people together, getting inclusive, and reflecting shared pleasures. 

Analyzing buying motivations, one may assume that LEGO and many board game brands bet on Connectedness to achieve wider social communication. However, there’s another renowned brand whose ad campaigns concentrate on Connectedness. Whatever the setting - a party, watching a movie, a picnic, a holiday at work, or a snack in the park - Coca-Cola always brings people together.


Defined: Belongingness is a far deeper motivation than ‘Connectedness’ while it is no longer merely about being surrounded by people, but rather being part of a social group. Belonging usually grounds on shared values, interests, and like-minded people - a certain group of people or system where we are “ourselves.”

How does this relate to the brands? Brands that want to fulfill this need should focus on support, empathy, caring, and deep, genuine friendships. They need to position themselves as familiar and appealing to a wide audience and capitalize on the feelings people share when they feel warm, included, and accepted by others.


Defined: Safety is a feeling of security that allows you to relax. This motivation does not always imply protection from danger, but rather indicates a state of vulnerability. When we need time to recuperate or even to be alone, we need to sense an almost childlike state of safety and care.

How does this relate to the brands? A protective brand satisfies your need to feel safe. That’s when you don't have to think about safety because the brand now cares about you.

Our auto market analysis indicates that the most resonant case in this vein is Volvo whose communication is built on the need for Protection. Those behind the wheel are responsible for themselves, the passengers, and the people on the road. That’s why the safety factor during driving is of top priority. Volvo has taken over the Protection, while other renowned car brands seek their uniqueness and communicate with consumers by betting on Recognition, Power, or Vitality.


Defined: Control assumes order and discipline. Some people perceive Control as a must. They live on a schedule with every event scheduled, and they plan their lives well in advance. Such a routine helps them avoid chaos and rewards them with calmness.

However, many do not need this motivation at all. Control may come as desirable or temporary, i.e. if you decide to take on sports and make it permanent, you’ll hardly manage to do so without a calendar or an app that would monitor your activity.

How does it work with the brands? Control is paramount for the brands that prioritize structuring people's lives. This happens in multiple niches ranging from cosmetics and health products to apps that help us to manage our time. For example, Google is a company built on serving people and helping them with all their needs. With Gmail, you may control your personal and professional life. Google Calendar is designed to fill all your needs, while the Tasks app keeps track of your plans and tasks to be completed.


Defined: The feeling of being unique, special, and to some extent superior to others. It is a human need to be recognized for our actions, abilities (intellectual or cultural), competencies, and choices.

In establishing a brand positioning, people who prioritize Recognition are interested in the latest innovations, like to know more, and want to be experts in a certain domain. Whenever they visit a coffee shop, they ask the barista about the origin of the grain, choose craft producers, and associate themselves with niche brands. It is important for them that their choice is outstanding and that people who are niche experts recognize them. 

How does it work with the brands? The brands that communicate through Recognition usually have a certain feature - a non-standard approach to production, individuality, and zest consumers associate themselves with. While this feature is not super important for all consumers, it works wonders when brands aim for a specific goal.

Mostly, these are niche brands, but there’s a brand known to everyone - Apple. Their first well-known campaign “Think Different” appealed to all people who wanted to see the world outside the box. This phrase correlated with Apple's innovative products and targeted people who would appreciate them. Apple has positioned itself as the brand whose products are bought to gain recognition and status. To show that “I'm in the game.”


Defined: Power voices the need to be the best. It reflects a person's social status, authority, and leadership to be respected by others.

Usually, we spot these people by their appearance and life choices - what brands they buy, what food they eat, what cars they drive. This is also a story about the recognition marked with a luxury label.

How does this relate to the brands? The dimension of power is important for brands that position themselves as premium, high-status, exclusive, and accessible only to the best of us. These brands include most fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Dior. Their famous products have made history and reflect the status of people who consume them.

But there is one brand whose name is synonymous with the word “power”. This is the Swiss watchmaking company Rolex. Initially, the company was known for its ultra-precise watches, and further began to develop its brand associated with premium class and prestige.


Defined:  Testing your abilities and discovering new things. A feeling of freedom, passion, and inspiration. When we strive to explore, travel, learn new things, expend energy, and feel alive and vigorous.

Vitality reveals the need to trespass our comfort zone. This can be the first independent trip, participation in a marathon, a new hobby, or even starting your own business. This is when we are open to new things and feel the adrenaline of our choices and the unknown ahead of us.

How does this relate to the brands? “Viable” brands broaden our horizons, challenge us, and encourage us to transform. They are so inquisitive like little children - the world is not hostile to them, but interesting and filled with amazing things. Such brands are beyond being conservative, they are ready for new trials and innovations.

Nike has always promoted the idea of pushing beyond one’s limits by engaging star athletes and using the motivational slogan “Just Do It”. It supports and kicks you in the butt so that you don't want to find an excuse to go to the gym or for a run. Nike inspires you in its advertising campaigns and celebrates even your smallest achievements. It doesn't compare you to others and shows that everyone undergoes their own path.

Understanding Consumer Motivation with the Censydiam

People are guided by emotions, not facts

This is one of the theses that best features the uniqueness of the Censydiam model. While exploring consumers, we use various marketing and analytical tools. In real life, however, people and their emotions are close-knit. Although rationality is still an important component of consumer behavior, brands that make you fall in love with them do so by playing on genuine human desires and needs. Accordingly, a product or a brand that fails to connect to our desires is unlikely to become part of our lives. That's the example marketing strategy that proves it right!

The Censydiam model is often used when a business is experiencing changes and needs to make strategic decisions about brand positioning. This stage involves exploring the demand side and the market, competitor products, services, and communications, as well as consumer research that allows for testing of the hypotheses elaborated on in the previous stages.

Within strategic management process, you may also apply Censydiam wheel to compare the starting point. For example, you can use the Model to determine the current motivations of a brand, analyze competitor offerings and the way they communicate with consumers, and then explore which motivations need to be changed or solidified.

Why do we opt for the Censydiam wheel when developing a brand positioning? 

Because of its simplicity and clarity. If there is a motivation, there is a branded response to it. The Model is comprehensive for business owners and professionals (i.e. creatives, social media specialists, designers, etc.) who’ll implement the strategy.  Further, the Model enables us to visualize the current state of affairs, look at the market from above, and define the areas for brand development. The Model is very easy to memorize and work with. Kateryna Husashenko, Lead Strategist at Promodo.

Censydiam attributes

1. While there are no clear evaluation criteria, you should dive into the meanings of key messages and visuals used by the brands to understand their core motivation vector.

2. The Model only shows the big picture and does not limit your creativity.  Often brands apply similar motivation vectors with a different intensity.

3. Never take a brand in isolation, separate from competitors. We have to consider the position of the market players to know the ones we should separate from, and those who proclaim shared messages. On this solid background, we develop sufficient communication with our consumers. 

4. Spotting the brand team's place on the compass. It is often the case when a brand’s philosophy communicates the message, though consumers perceive it differently. This is when there is a gap between positioning and communication - what the brand conveys and the way it does it do not coincide. That’s when we adjust creatives and messages.

How does it Work in Practice?

While working on a marketing strategy, we start with competitor analysis. Studying their communication on social networks, websites, and advertisements, we determine what consumer needs they appeal to.

By placing competitors on the Censydiam compass, we see the occupied vectors, the most competitive ones vs. the unsettled ones.

This allows us to formulate hypotheses and compare the data with the current consumer needs yet unmet by competitor products or services.

This is how we lay a strategic direction for the brand:

- not to compete for consumer attention in a similar field of communication

- to become visible to customers by satisfying their immediate needs; this is the case once the competitors fail to communicate their offerings to the consumers even though their products or services have similar properties.

Major Takeaways

The Censydiam wheel helps to focus the brand on consumer motivation: 

  • What competitors are actively communicating about
  • Occupy a niche where you’ll best express your uniqueness on the market 
  • Stand out from the competition 
  • Attract consumer attention by responding to their actual needs.

The main thing to keep in mind when using the Model is that it will help you to structure information, use it flexibly and with a purpose, and establish the foundations to build a strong competitive brand. 

While working with international brands, Promodo marketers apply the Censydiam wheel to explore competitors' communication and positioning and spot unoccupied vectors that we can  use to make the brand stand out in the market. 

Before developing a communication strategy, we confirm our hypotheses with quantitative and qualitative consumer research. We further develop brand positioning and a brand book based on substantial data on competitors' activities and consumer preferences.

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Written by
Dayana Danyliuk

Journalist at Promodo

For over 4 years, I have been working as a journalist in the communications and marketing industry. I help brands communicate effectively through written content, engage with market experts, and create professional materials on topics related to business and marketing, sharing insights on working with marketing tools.

Written by
Kateryna Husachenko

Marketing Strategist at Promodo

Expertise: agricultural market, fintech, SAAS, automotive products, children's products. 10+ years of experience in strategic marketingIn the area of ​​my competences:conducting qualitative and quantitative research of consumersdetermination of brand growth pointsformation of UTP of the brandpositioning development.

May 9, 2024
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