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Global Study on How Brands Can Make People Happy Again

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders fear using humor in customer interactions according to a new research report from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience and Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author, and podcaster.

The Happiness Report

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The Happiness Report includes insights from more than 12,000 consumers and business leaders across 14 countries and found that people are searching for new experiences to make them smile and laugh and will reward brands that embrace humor with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases. They will also walk away from brands that don’t.

Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster stated: 

We have all been through some very tough years, and around the world, we are short on happiness. We are starved for experiences that make us smile and laugh, and brands can help. 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 humor, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy.

Rob Tarkoff, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience, added:

The customer experience continues to evolve, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: making the customer happy. There are many different factors that go into creating happy customers and in this research, we decided to examine humor 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.

People are Searching for Happiness in New Ways and are Willing to Pay a Premium!

It has been more than two years since many people last felt true happiness and they are searching for ways to be happy again, no matter the cost.

  • 45% of people have not felt true happiness for more than two years and 25% don’t know or have forgotten what it means to feel truly happy.
  • 88% are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh.
  • People are prioritizing health (80%), personal connections (79%), and experiences (53%) to gain happiness.
  • More than half (53%) wish money could buy happiness, with 78% willing to pay a premium for true happiness.
  • 89% attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic and while 47% said that receiving packages made them happy, 12% struggled to remember the purchases they had made online.

Advertising, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service Interactions Need to Change

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders admit their brands rarely use humor to engage with customers.

  • 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 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 humor.
  • 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 humor to sell.
  • 75% of people would follow a brand if it is 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 humor 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 humor into bot communications.

Smiles and Laughter Pay Dividends, but Business Leaders are Afraid to Joke Around

People will reward brands that embrace humor with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases and will walk away from those that don’t.

  • 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 did not make them laugh or smile regularly.
  • If a brand uses humor, 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 humor 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 humor in customer interactions.
  • 85% of business leaders state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humor. Business leaders would be more confident using humor when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (55%) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32%).

Learn more about this global report here.


Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. across the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and Columbia between January 3-27, 2022.

For this survey, 12,183 consumers, including 3,125 business leaders across marketing, sales and customer service, were asked general questions about the impact of the pandemic on happiness and openness to seeing an emotion like humor inserted into advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service activities as part of the overall customer experience. The report targeted consumers and full-time business leaders 21 years of age or older.

Respondents were recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and completed on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys.

About Oracle

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