Commerce POVs

Commerce and Happiness

Written by Matthew Powers

In the age of rapidly expanding commerce in a hyper competitive, digital first market, how can brands avoid getting left behind? The answer is not leaving behind the everyday consumer. When thinking about these macroeconomic implications, marketers need to address commerce issues on a personal, individualized level. 

In “The Algebra of Happiness”, NYU Marketing Professor Scott Galloway gave a fascinating session uncovering the growing sense of unhappiness in the modern consumer, stemmed from money issues and a lack of opportunity. From his research, once you hit age 25, the aggregate of happiness drops to the lowest points of your life until your late 50’s. This happens as you develop hyper awareness of yourself and feel a need to compare yourself to your peers. You start thinking you aren’t living up to your expectations in the job you want, especially not earning the salary you want. My takeaway is that since money is the source of lot of personal and interpersonal issues for people, brands need to recognize their place in this equation to best address those struggling consumers. 

“Can you buy happiness?”, Calloway asks. 

From his research, $75k is the annual income plateau for the correlation between earnings and happiness. This jumps to $750k in New York City - to no one’s surprise. The biggest takeaway I find from this session relating to commerce is that even though the marketplace is a game of inches and there is a ton of paranoia surrounding success and profit margins, consumer facing messaging should highlight the various income levels of the audience. It’s advantageous for us as marketers to explore new audiences not just to find efficiencies, but to expand our message and the worldview of our consumers. 

From an audience perspective, it’s an implication for brands to invest in the aspirational markets, in people that aren’t in their peak earning years. This way you can establish brand equity with them and when they start to earn more spending power your brand will be top of mind for their purchase. Like you would invest in your family, the people you love and yourself, brands should invest in their consumers on a personal level. Young people are congregating in cities more and more for the competitive jobs of tomorrow, and that affects how advertisers speak to a national audience covering each region of the globe. It’s up to us to establish that connection early, regardless of their quality or income.