Money can buy happiness, in the short term at least

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Consumer confidence may have plummeted to an all-time low, according to recent data from Gfk NOP, but a sneak peek at one of the features in our next issue casts somewhat of a light on the never-ending gloom.

Next week we’ll be exclusively featuring a look at the ’Happiness Exchange’, a survey of 25-year-olds conducted by The Future Foundation. The survey asked both men and women in this age group what makes them happy, both for long term and short term gains.

It’s refreshing to know that there are little surprises in what respondents nominated as their top five short-term happiness boosters. 25-year-old women responded accordingly:

Buying new clothes: 74%
Buying new shoes: 71%
Going on holiday: 54%
Having sex: 48%
New technology (such as phones, games, computers, TVs): 51%

Meanwhile, the results for men in the same categories are, in order, 49%, 58%, 50%, 49% and 38%.

It’s no wonder then that affordable high street fashion retailers, the likes of Zara, H&M and Asos, are doing so well. While the survey reveals that 25-year-olds are still aiming at long term security in their ambitions to buy a flat and car of their own, the financial difficulty in achieving these goals means short-term happiness becomes more sought after – and brands can provide it.

The growth of the online shopping sector means impulse purchases to drown your recession depression in fast fashion are becoming second nature, not just for women, but increasingly for men too.

What is interesting to note is the similarity in men’s responses to the first four categories, buying clothes, shoes, going on holiday and having sex. Perhaps men view the four as more inter-linked than women do, and perhaps this is something brands can play on when marketing to this audience.

Certainly, in a feature about male grooming we will be running in a few weeks time, 46% of 18 to 34-year-old men say investing in personal appearance can make their love life more fruitful.

The higher response from women than men to technology purchases is also an interesting point and perhaps most of us would assume the results would have been in reverse. I suspect that women link technology more to their social life than men do, through things like social mobile networking, and the increase in mobile shopping would also be playing a part in this. This provides a useful insight to brands wanting to get even closer to young women by playing a part in their mobile world.

Unsurprisingly, chocolate, beer and wine also score highly in the happiness ranks, showing that quick-fix drinking and eating is a trend that is here to stay. However, couple with this with the feeling that more brands should spend more resources in linking with causes, ethical associations (and the all important stamp of approval from the likes of Fairtrade) are going to have more value with this audience.

Keep an eye on next week’s issue, out on September 8, if you want to know more about what makes today’s 25-year-olds tick.

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