Should more retailers aim for their customers’ funny bones?
A new study finds consumers are seeking humor from brands as they emerge from the pandemic era. Yet only 16 percent of brands surveyed use humor to sell, with 95 percent fearing using humor in customer interactions.
“The Happiness Report” from Oracle and Gretchen Rubin, author of five bestselling books, including “The Happiness Project,” was based on a global survey in January of 12,183 consumers and 3,125 business leaders across marketing, sales and customer service.
The study found that 45 percent of consumers have not felt true happiness for more than two years and 88 percent are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh.
Ninety-one percent prefer brands to be funny, a number that increases among Gen Z (94 percent) and Millennials (94 percent). Beyond advertising campaigns, the survey showed a vast majority seeking humor when following brands on social media channels, in email marketing subject lines and when engaging with chatbots/digital assistants.
Only 15 percent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social media; 24 percent actively use humor in email marketing campaigns and 27 percent actively incorporate humor into bot communications.
Eighty-five percent of business leaders said that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humor. Business leaders say they would be more confident using humor when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (55 percent) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32 percent).
Duluth Trading, Dollar Shave Club, ASOS, Zappos, Aldi and T.J. Maxx are among the few retailers and direct-to-consumer brands that stand out, not only for their occasional funny advertisements, but for their amusing or lighthearted tone on social media.
Embracing humor, however, may work against marketers’ efforts to project authenticity, empathy, transparency and inclusivity in their messaging.
A November 2021 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults from Attest exploring brand messaging found that consumers most want brands to make them laugh and entertain them, cited by 57 percent. That compares to only four percent looking to be amused by brands in a September 2000 survey.
After wanting to be entertained, the most desired brand messaging was motivational, inspirational, educational, thought-provoking and reassuring.
- Global Report: 45 percent of People Have Not Felt True Happiness for More Than Two Years – Oracle/PRNewswire
- Consumers Looking for Humorous Messaging from Brands – MarketingCharts
- 2022 US Consumer trends report – Attest
- Are Consumers Laughing at Your Brand? – WWD
- Being funny on social media can drive serious business – Sprout Social
- Survey Finds Customers Want More Fun in Marketing Campaigns – QSR Magazine
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the surveys are accurate in finding consumers want more humor at this time and, if so, why aren’t more retailers tapping humor in advertising campaigns or social media messaging? Do you agree that brands “do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humor”?