New research conducted by The Guardian has found that a litany of crises have led people to retreat from the world and seek happiness in life’s little moments.
With the pandemic, war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis, climate change and political turmoil chiselling away at our sense of security and optimism towards the future, joy is being extracted from the here and now. We’re mining for affirmation in everyday experiences.
This, according to Imogen Fox, Head of Advertising at the Guardian, is reflected in the increased number of eyeballs reading more lighthearted health and lifestyle content on the publisher’s website.
Wearied by the steady stream of bad news we’re confronted with on a daily basis, we’re opting to take ownership of something we can actually control: ourselves. An article titled ‘100 ways to improve your life without really trying’ has garnered 5.7 million page views alone, for example. Content related to the keyword ‘walking’, meanwhile, is eliciting 24% more views year-on-year.
The reality is, we’re becoming more intentional with our time and more calculated in who we spend it with. Years of lockdown and working from home have made many of us more comfortable with being by ourselves. We’re less adverse to saying ‘no’ if it helps maintain a slower, calmer life that shields us from the perceived chaos of the wider world. We’re finding comfort in the mundane.
This is underlined by stats. Of 2,600 UK adults aged between 18 and 65 who participated in the ‘Shift happens’ study, 91% said they felt “happy or OK” about their individual situations. Paradoxically, however, 70% believe “we’ve lived through a collective trauma”. The same number of people – 80% – think the world will stay the same or get worse as those who think their personal life will stay the same or get better.
People are tired of reminders about the instability that surrounds them; largely powerless to enact any meaningful change on a scale that would make a telling difference, we instead want content and products that facilitate self-improvement. We seek things that will lighten moments and brighten the corners of everyday life.
But we’re not living in silos. Part of the happiness we seek rests in nurturing relationships with those around us. Happiness breeds happiness. It’s contagious. By helping others and fostering a sense of camaraderie, we’re improving our lives on a personal level, too. 71% of those who take part in clothes swaps and sustainable activities, for instance, do so to feel part of a community.
Brands that therefore focus on the little things – be it random acts of kindness, the beauty of nature, or healthy lifestyle choices – stand a better chance of not only engaging consumers, but delivering commercial results.
Our recent work with L’Occitane, for example, centred on spotlighting the brand’s key commitments as product differentiators that give deeper meaning to the act of gift giving. These totems included the sustainability of its products and supply chains; biodiversity; waste reduction; and the empowerment of women.
Launched in the run up to Christmas, the ’What’s a Gift’ campaign hit the right emotive notes in contextually-relevant environments, ultimately driving a 12% year-on-year uplift in sales across all gifts.
We’re surrounded by permacrises that simply feel too big and too overwhelming. Yet, despite everything, the UK population is finding ways to maintain a sense of joy and optimism. It’s here where brands should look for new opportunities.
Coalescing good causes with basic social rituals – as was the strategy for L’Occitane – is one way of adding value to little moments that bring us happiness. The right approach for you may be different – but at its root will undoubtedly be emotion.
Indeed, by centring your brand activity around helping people feel good about simply navigating the everyday, you’re positioning your business as a welcomed participant in this quiet revolution.