TRENDING: If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

by Louise Burgers. Brands are realising that their consumer is not the same person as two years before, and new strategies are required.

by Louise Burgers. After the past two pandemic years, people are finding it hard to be happy again. A global survey by Oracle CX found that 45% of people report not feeling true happiness for more than two years – and 25% have even forgotten what happiness feels like. This has major implications for brands and retailers, as we all know that how customers feel, influences how they shop.

The rate of change and trauma from the deadly Covid pandemic and being lockdown and shut in at home, has had an impact and consumers are struggling. Brands are realising that their consumer is not the same person as two years before, and new strategies are required. The study from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) and Gretchen Rubin, a five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster, found that during the pandemic, nearly all respondents tried to find ‘’happiness’ in online shopping. People wanted new and fun experiences from brands to make them smile. The study also found that brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy and purpose, will be rewarded by customers with repeat business.

Looking for happiness in all the wrong places

The report found that consumers the world over, are actively looking for happiness:

  • 88% of people are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh; and are prioritising health (80%), personal connections (79%), and experiences (53%) to gain happiness.
  • 91% of people prefer brands to be funny; and 72% would choose a brand that uses humour over the competition, even though 95% of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions.
  • 53% wish money could buy happiness – and 78% are willing to pay a premium for true happiness.
  • 89% attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic because 47% said that receiving packages made them happy. Conversely, 12% struggled to remember the purchases they had made online.

What this is all telling brands, is that advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service interactions need to change, as people want brands to make them smile and laugh – but the majority of business leaders don’t use humour to engage with customers, as they are afraid too despite what their customers are saying in this latest survey, meaning it’s time for a rethink. Brands do need to actively look at ways to help their customers navigate these tough times, injecting a little bit of humour into their campaigns; or just a great experience in store and in the mall – something that has been sadly lacking during the pandemic for obvious reasons. And the unfortunate lack of creativity by most mall retail property owners.

Smiles pay dividends

What retailers and mall management need to understand, is that they are no longer a prime shopping destination after the pandemic-led acceleration of online shopping, and improvements in delivery fulfillment; they are now entertainment destinations, competing with other hobbies, nature, theatre and other 360-degree experiences surrounding our cities and towns. This is what customers are telling brands globally, what they want:

  • 78% of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 91% said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among the TikTok generations – Gen Z (94%) and Millennials (94%).
  • 90% are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet business leaders said that only 20% of their brands’ offline ads (TV, billboards), and 18% of their online ads actively use humour.
  • 77% of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 16% of business leaders said that their brands use humour to sell.
  • 75% of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 15% of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social.
  • 69% of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 24% of business leaders said they actively use humour in email marketing campaigns.
  • 68% would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 27% of business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications.
  • 48% of people don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 41% would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly.
  • If a brand uses humour, people are more likely to buy from the brand again (80%), recommend the brand to family and friends (80%), choose the brand over the competition (72%), and spend more with a brand (63%).
  • 89% of business leaders see the opportunity to use humour to enhance the customer experience and believe that their brand can do more to make customers laugh or smile.
  • 95% of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions.
  • 85% of business leaders state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humour. Business leaders would be more confident using humour when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (55%), and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32%).
Make your customers happy. The End.

“We’ve all been through some very tough years, and around the world, we’re short on happiness. We’re starved for experiences that make us smile and laugh, and brands can help,” says Gretchen Rubin. “For brands aiming to contribute to the happiness of their target audience, the process starts with data and knowing your customers. Only then can you bring the appropriate mix of humour, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy.”

Though customer experience continues to evolve, it still comes one thing – making the customer happy, adds Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX). “There are many different factors that go into creating happy customers and in this research, we decided to examine humour, as it is one of the most nuanced. As the results show, most business leaders want to make consumers laugh more and understand it’s a critical part of establishing a true relationship. To be successful, brands need to put data at the heart of their customer experience strategy.”

MORE from the Oracle CX global report here.



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Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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