If you’re feeling good today, then perhaps it’s because you’ve been bombarded with messages about happiness. Money can’t buy you love, the best things in life are free, and so on.
And if you’re feeling even more cynical and world-weary than usual, maybe it’s because you resent being bombarded with messages telling you how you should feel.
This has all been orchestrated by the United Nations. Today, the second International Day of Happiness, is part of an attempt to make the world a better place by re-positioning the concept of happiness. Happiness, it is argued, is not owned by advertisers or politicians, but by individuals. And what makes us happy is family, friends and relationships, not economic growth, materialism or fame.
This will not be news to many older consumers. All the research we have seen suggests that all the objective evidence is that older people have every reason to be unhappy - income, social participation, health and overall quality of life decline. However, the subjective data says something very different.
In fact, for some years now there has been a steady stream of research finding that the older you are, the happier you are. Overall, happiness steadily increases from the age of 40 up until the late 70s and early 80s. Our research report provides information on this and a whole lot more fascinating information.*
The reasons for this seem to be linked with increased acceptance and enjoyment of the here and now, of people, place and experience, and a decrease in materialism. Older people are less likely to be seeking self-actualisation via the emotion and imagery typically offered by consumer brands – that’s for younger people. Products and services are increasingly chosen for their ability to meet specific needs and deliver specific functional benefits. And while we don’t need to impress others, we do want to feel good about ourselves.
So the United Nations has every reason to thank older people for their support. We are more likely to be happy, we value happiness and we know that it is not necessarily associated with materialism. For marketers, it’s about a deeper understanding of older consumers and the complex role of their products and services in contributing to happiness.
* The Mature Market Report. www.rhcadvantage.co.uk/insight
Mark Beasley, rhc Advantage - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Beasley, of rhc advantage, mature marketing consultants