I came across this recently after seeing something very similar in not one, but two independent consultant's reports on a site's usability and effectiveness. The basic idea is an old one (no pun intended) and has largely been left behind as an over-simplification. (Maslow, for those who haven't seen it before.)
Personally I prefer the honey-comb or framework models of user experience (I don't have specific examples to cite just at the moment) as they contain an inherent concept of interdependence between elements rather than an hierarchical concept. To my mind Maslow's insistence that lower-level 'needs' must be fulfilled before higher-level 'needs' are considered translates very poorly to the online space. So I was surprised to see it crop up in the article cited above from 2001 (Maslow was writing 50 years ago), and from a well-known consultancy in November 2004.
I think it might be because pyramids are easier to conceptualise than honey-combs...
[I promise I'll get back to the business strategy of Web site user experience soon.]