People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions according to a new research report from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) and Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. 

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 humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases, and walk away from those that don’t. 

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 percent of people have not felt true happiness for more than two years and 25 percent don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy. 

• 88 percent are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh. People are prioritising health (80 percent), personal connections (79 percent), and experiences (53 percent) to gain happiness. 

• More than half (53 percent) wish money could buy happiness, with 78 percent willing to pay a premium for true happiness. 

• 89 percent attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic and while 47 percent said that receiving packages made them happy, 12 percent 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 humour to engage with customers. 

• 78 percent of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 91 percent said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among Gen Z (94 percent) and Millennials (94 percent). 

• 90 percent are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet business leaders said that only 20 percent of their brands’ offline ads (TV, billboards) and 18 percent of their online ads actively use humour. 

• 77 percent of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 16 percent of business leaders said that their brands use humour to sell. 

• 75 percent of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 15 percent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social. 

• 69 percent of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 24 percent of business leaders said they actively use humor in email marketing campaigns. 

• 68 percent would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 27 percent of business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications. 

Smiles and laughter pay dividends, but business leaders are afraid to joke around 

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

• 48 percent of people don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 41 percent 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 percent), recommend the brand to family and friends (80 percent), choose the brand over the competition (72 percent), and spend more with a brand (63 percent). 

• 89 percent 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 percent of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions. 

• 85 percent 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 percent) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32 percent). 

Supporting quotes 

“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,” said Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. 

“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.” 

“The customer experience continues to evolve, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: Making the customer happy,” said 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.” 

Learn more about this global report: https://www.oracle.com/cx/happiness/.