Industry Updates

Happyology and the Happiness Industry

21 Oct 2015

It seems that being happy has become a duty. We are expected to be happy, but we have less and less time to get happiness from personal relationships, friends and family. Our sense of connection and personal attachment is being transposed onto machines, we speak through devices and use machines to express ourselves, not only physically, but on many levels. We seem to be emotionally stuck and have a lesser capability to function in a psychologically balanced manner. This could result in consumers subliminally reaching out to brands for an emotional experience as we typically crave what we feel deprived of.

This need for connection has created a craving or a gap that brands are now looking to fill, but there is also pressure from the consumer, for something more, something different that is going to create a sense of happiness and excitement. We just need to think about why we want brands to make us feel something. Are we turning to brands for some kind of emotional fulfilment? What is the implication?

Ask Afrika explored this in the annual Icon Brands™ survey and explored Happyology and the Happiness Industry (as defined by Will Davies) further, looking at what it means for both brand owners and for individuals. The Happiness Industry or Happyology might be stimulating our need to experiment or try new products.

From the perspective of the individual this endless pursuit of happiness can become difficult. According to the Harvard Business Review consciously pursuing happiness can actually drain the sense of joy we usually get from the really good things we experience. Will Davies says that the Happiness Industry becomes exhausting and a moral obligation. Pascal Bruckner says, “Unhappiness is not only unhappiness, it is worse yet, it is a failure to be happy.”

Yet there is a social drive for us not only to appear happy, but an expectation that we should be happy all the time. This results in a search for emotionally fulfilling and sensory experiences through brands. Social and sensory experiences boil down to memorability and happiness has become a brand issue to manage. Coca Cola came fourth overall in the Ask Afrika Icon Brands™ awards and their Hug Me vending machine activation is a perfect example of getting the right balance of social and sensory experience through marketing, click here to see the video.

“I supposed there is also something to consider if we hug machines, and you will probably know of many more instances and examples where we are migrating basic needs to technology for fulfilment,” says Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.

Coca Cola are even using machines to connect nations through their Happiness campaign, they do this brilliantly with India and Pakistan, click here to view the video.

 An interesting study conducted was shared by Ask Afrika at the recent Esomar conference on happiness per media channel. When looking at print, the researchers found the largest increase in happiness after exposure to a specific media moment, but this increase was from a low base. Cinema showed the biggest increase after the media moment off the highest base. Cinema is associated with a happy space, we relax, feel happy typically share the moment, it is crucial to capture both social and sensory elements.

The Ask Afrika Icon Brands™ survey uses a nationally representative random sample, 15,690 consumers were surveyed, representing over 23.3 million adult South African consumers. An enumerated area sampling design was employed and the universe includes all communities with more than 8,000 inhabitants 15 years old and above. The data was weighted using the Statistics South Africa’s population mid-year estimates and audited by respected independent experts BDO and Dr Ariana Neethling.

“The Ask Afrika Icon Brands™ survey holds value in understanding which brands are getting it right and also can provide marketers wishing to target the entire population with the requisite tools to track trends and to gain greater insight into the South African consumer mind-set and behaviour. However, the survey also provides insights into a diversity of product categories that are targeted at only a portion of the South African demographic,” says de Beer.

Tailor-made reports can be ordered, providing insight and competitor analysis into specific industry sectors. To enquire about these customised reports contact:

Maria Petousis, TGI Director,  or Julie-Anne Terblanche, TGI Client Services Executive,  (012) 428 7400

Full link to Coca Cola Hug Me YouTube video:

Full link to Coca Cola connecting India and Pakistan YouTube video:

About the Ask Afrika Group:
Over a period of two decades, Ask Afrika Group has grown to be the largest independent South African market research company. The company focuses on local relevance, benchmarked against the global context. Ask Afrika is a member of ESOMAR. Apart from its large South African footprint, Ask Afrika Group also operates in a dozen African continental territories.

Ask Afrika Group is well known for delivering strategic and large scale field projects and for creating benchmarks for industry. With regards to service excellence Ask Afrika Group is the preferred research partner across industries to co-craft customer service strategies through meaningful research methodologies across the value chain and customer service touch points.

TGI research, for which Ask Afrika Group  owns the South African copyright, has an annual single source sample of 15 000 locally and 800 000 globally. It has a global geographic coverage of 70 markets, and measures services, products, media, and brands. Ask Afrika’s knowledge of brands is extensive and as owner of the local TGI license, it is the leader in brand expertise in South Africa. TGI can provide a commercial alternative to industry media measurements. It is the perfect vehicle for brand positioning.  

The Ask Afrika Groups’ exclusive product suite includes the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, the Trust Barometer™, Radio Moods™, TGI (Target Group Index), Ask Afrika Icon Brands™, Kasi Star Brands™ and TGI Township, the Digital Barometer, the Lite Data Collection, the Behavioural Sciences Package and Gateway.

Ask Afrika is proud of its exceptional service delivery, with offices based in Pretoria and Stellenbosch. For more information please visit the website:

Issued on behalf of Ask Afrika by Stone Soup Public Relations

For further information, please contact Daya Coetzee, (011) 447 7241