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Selling ‘happiness’: Does the proposition still work?

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Selling ‘happiness’: Does the proposition still work?

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product”, said Eleanor Roosevelt. And today, happiness has definitely become a by-product of brands promoting themselves by using the emotional quotient.

While market experts may say that ‘happiness’ is not a sharply defined proposition on its own, many leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Dominos, Nestle’s Maggi, Cadbury and McDonald’s, amongst others, bank on this very proposition to connect with their consumers.

One of the reasons why happiness sells, according to some of these brands, is because a similar thread of advertising, particularly something that is focussed on a positive sentiment, helps build trust.

Maggi for many years has positioned itself around the same proposition. Shivani Hegde, General Manager - Foods, Nestlé India shared how using happiness as a quotient has created brand value for Maggie. She said, “‘Khushiyan’ is an emotional experience and it is important to understand and find ways to lead the consumers to that state. It cannot be superficial. The idea is to give the consumers a platform to share these moments of happiness made with Maggi.”

Some believe that various brands have been practicing the concept of selling happiness, because it is the easiest way of connecting a brand to its consumer. Raj Deepak Das, ECD, BBDO is of the view that brands sell the happiness quotient in different ways and over the years, the proposition has seen different kinds of innovation as well. He elaborated, “For a brand such as Coca Cola, for instance, the happiness proposition has allowed it to do an excellent job with the way it creates consumer engagement initiatives.”

Value for money as important as the emotional take-away
Delivering on its promise of providing value and happiness, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Price Menu priced at Rs 25 in 2004. The brand increased the happiness quotient by providing Extra Value Meals. The most recent addition to its house of discounted offers is the McValue Lunch Menu option.

Rameet Arora, Senior Director Marketing, McDonald’s India (West & South) said, “In today’s competitive retail world where customers are more aware of choices, providing value for money is almost equal to providing just satisfaction. At McDonald’s, since customer happiness is key, the buck does not stop there. We are focussed on going the extra mile to provide the ‘wow’ factor as McDonald’s believes in providing everyday value to its customers. We trust that maintaining a high happiness quotient with our customers will go a long way in constantly elevating the ‘I’m lovin it’ experience.”

Dominos sells happiness on the basis, ‘Thirty minutes or free’, where you know if you are hungry you will have a Dominos pizza at your doorstep in the next 30 minutes whereas McDonalds sells happiness on value for money by coming up with a variety of meals, combos and discounts.

The catch comes in the fact that apart from the different concepts or their versions of happiness that brands use, the proposition has become too generic.

Santosh Desai, Managing Director and CEO, Future Brands commented, “I do not think the idea is unique or sharp. In my opinion the happiness quotient is used by too many brands and they do not do it very distinctively. However, the idea can be kept fresh if the proposition is innovated well. Despite the various brands trying to market happiness, Coca Cola is one brand that has created a world, a movement of its own. It is not the tagline but the idea that needs to be fresh and distinctive.”

Bringing longevity to the mix
Perhaps what has worked in Coca-Cola’s favour and has allowed the brand to ride the happiness wave for a very long time is its consistent effort to embed happiness across all forms of its communication including aspects such as packaging and even its vending machines, which it had dubbed ‘The Happiness Factory’ in one of its globally popular campaigns.

The ‘Open Happiness’ idea had made Coca-Cola one of the top recalled brands, when brands spreading happiness is discussed.

Another such example is Cadbury. Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) has been winning customers over with its ads over the last six decades and has effectively captured the ‘meetha moments’ space to celebrate any happy occasion. Each of its campaigns – from ‘The real taste of life’, ‘Pappu pass ho gaya’, ‘Miss Palanpur’ to ‘Kuch meetha ho jaye’ – have refreshed its proposition, allowing its ‘Shubh Aarambh’ campaign an enviable longevity.

Conceptualised and created by Ogilvy India, ‘Shubh Aarambh’ has attempted to become synonymous with life’s celebratory occasions. Although rooted in a strong cultural truth, the campaign has a contemporary and youthful twist to it that allows people to easily connect with it. At the core, the campaign projects Cadbury’s core value of shared happiness.

So does selling happiness work? Coca-Cola, Maggi and Cadbury are some brands that have demonstrated that when happiness is more than just a tagline and is re-created in different forms to connect the brand with its consumers, it definitely sells. Otherwise, it is just another attempt that only adds to the clutter of brands that hope to ride the happiness proposition.


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