NEW YORK: Facebook has come top in a new study ranking brands on how well they fulfil Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

In a quarterly poll, the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University asked 1,000 representative Americans how well major brands deliver on Maslow's seven needs: basic needs; sense of protection; social needs; self-esteem; actualization, experiential needs; and happiness.

The results from Q4 2012 rank the top ten in the following order: Facebook, Walmart, Google, Visa, Amazon, Nike, Coca-Cola, Subway, McDonald's and UPS.

Facebook is in the top three in all but the Basic category. Walmart leads both in the Basic Needs and Protection categories, and then is either second or third place in the rest. Google is first, second or third in all categories, while Visa appears in the top ten of all seven categories.

Speaking to MediaPost, Luke Kachersky, assistant professor of marketing at Fordham, pointed out that sheer size impacts the leaders in each of the categories.

"We measure the societal impact of a brand," he said, "so the greater number of consumers the brand benefits, the greater their rating will be."

In addition, the pervasiveness of brands within a consumer's life is a factor. "At Walmart, a person can stock up on Campbell's soup (basic needs) while picking up the latest X-Box video games (experiential needs) and anything else in between," he noted.

Kachersky also drew attention to the paradoxical aspect of one category. "We track over a dozen financial services, and all rank in the bottom half of the brand list, particularly on safety and security needs. Ironically, financial messaging is all about security for your future and retirement, but [in consumer sentiment] we find the opposite."

Data sourced from MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff