Jul 18, 2012

Feeling good.

Happiness is defined as "a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." Remember the good ol' days back in 2006, when people felt more economically secure. The annual unemployment rate was 4.6%. The government urged Americans to buy homes, and access to credit was easy. Now, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, national morale is low; and marketers see the appeal of promising happiness along with their products. Companies are starting to examine ideas such as the ones on the list below, looking for the key to the hearts of their employees, customers and prospects.

Consumer Futures
Understand what makes consumers happy, how much of a priority happiness is, and how it affects behaviours and customer interactions.

Brand Futures
Determine if happiness should be central –or simply a component part –of your brand and how this should be framed

Category Futures
Identify which dimensions of happiness are relevant for your category and where permissions lie

Company Futures
Determine the role happiness should play in your organisation’s culture and its link to recruitment, motivation and retention

Macro Futures
Monitor how happiness is evolving and the expectations this will set for the future

Burson-Marsteller  just did a study on what they are calling Happynomics:

The sudden upsurge of interest in our emotional well-being from a variety of secular organisations –including Action for Happiness -could easily be dismissed as some kind of pie in the sky, “Big Society” clap trap, were it not for tangible proof that a happier workforce is a more productive one and that there is currently a happiness deficit in spite of our relatively affluent Western lifestyles.

Surveys in Britain and the U.S. show that people are no happier now than in the 1950s -despite massive economic growth.

Trust is a major determinant of happiness in a society. Levels of trust vary widely between countries. The percentage of people who say "Most people can be trusted" is only 30% of people in the U.K. and U.S., compared to 60% some 40 years ago. But in Scandinavia the level is still over 60%, and these are the happiest countries too [data pre twin terror attacks].

Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%.

As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.Measurement

In an effort to measure well-being beyond per capita GDP, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has just created a National Happiness Index to provide quarterly measures of how people feel. The first results will be available in July 2012.

Happiness as the new economicsis an appealing thought, but it is hard to imagine any major economy looking at happiness instead of money any time soon. Happiness is notoriously hard to measure, and hence data is hard to obtain. NEF (New Economics Foundation) is one organisation that has looked at well-being around the world and produced this Happy Planet Index.Happiness can’t be bought

Most people think that if they become successful, then they'll be happy. But recent discoveriesin psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we're positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive.
If further proof were needed, after an initial period of euphoria lottery winners are found to revert to the same level of happiness they felt prior to their win.