A recent study by the Guardian looked at the role brands play in influencing an individual’s well-being.
In collaboration with Cog Research, “Mood of the Nation” surveyed more than 2,000 adults in the UK and found that people care about how brands behave and worry about “less than desirable” business behaviors.
Implicit research techniques were employed to measure feelings, which can be more reliable than attitudes as consumers might alter their attitudes according to what they think researchers want to hear.
Participants were segmented based on three dimensions: happiness with their personal situations, concern for the world around them, and activity levels as people, citizens and consumers.
The segmentation resulted in five distinct dimensions:
Engaged people are happy, active and concerned about the world around them (24 percent)
Blissful people are happy, active and less concerned (15 percent)
Middle people are moderately happy, active and concerned (25 percent)
Escapists are less active and unconcerned (23 percent)
Disempowered people are passive, unhappy and concerned (13 percent)
A deeper understanding of market segments and which kinds of advertising each will respond to lets marketers better plan product development, messaging and media strategy in order to communicate more effectively, build consumer trust, credibility and loyalty.
Categories to consider include demographic information and psychographic traits (i.e. VALS typology), socioeconomic status, geographic location and service-related characteristics.
Three out of four people surveyed said they were concerned about unethical business behavior, particularly when it comes to issues like the environment, tax evasion and irresponsible treatment of employees.
In response to the open-ended question “Are there any brands that make you happy?” participants named over 600 brand names, from large retailers and technology companies to local businesses. Sixty-seven percent of the overall sample (and 79 percent of Guardian readers) can name a brand that makes them happy.
How brands activate happiness
Brands can influence people’s sense of well-being by encouraging them to be active as people, citizens and consumers.
The study found that happiness is not one-dimensional and that people vary in their response to different measures and messages. According to the research, being active is the biggest contributor to feeling happy. And happier people are more active consumers.
Brands make people happy with ethical business practices, by focusing on what makes their customers happy, addressing their target audience’s expectations and, sometimes, through unexpected acts of kindness.