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Oracle Study: 94 per cent of people want brands to make them smile

An oracle survey covered 14 markets including UAE

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions according to a new research report from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) and Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. The Happiness Report includes insights from more than 12,000 consumers and business leaders across 14 countries including the UAE and found that people are searching for new experiences to make them smile and laugh and will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases, and walk away from those that don’t.

People are searching for happiness in new ways and are willing to pay a premium 

It has been more than two years since many people last felt true happiness and they are searching for ways to be happy again, no matter the cost. 

  • 94 per cent are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh. People are prioritizing health (80 per cent), personal connections (73 per cent), and experiences (26 per cent) to gain happiness.
  • More than half (66 per cent) wish money could buy happiness, with 85 per cent willing to pay a premium for true happiness.
  • 91 per cent attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic and while 49 per cent said that receiving packages made them happy, 16 per cent struggled to remember the purchases they had made online. 

Advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service interactions need to change 

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders admit their brands rarely use humour to engage with customers.

  • 90 per cent of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 96 per cent said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among Gen Z (97 per cent) and Millennials (96 per cent).
  • 88 per cent are more likely to remember funny ads, yet business leaders said that only 14 per cent of their brands’ offline ads (TV, billboards) and 16 per cent of their online ads actively use humour.
  • 89 per cent of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 10 per cent of business leaders said that their brands use humour to sell.
  • 83 per cent of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 9 per cent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social.
  • 77 per cent of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 19 per cent of business leaders said they actively use humour in email marketing campaigns.
  • 80 per cent would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 22 per cent of business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications.

Smiles and laughter pay dividends, but business leaders are afraid to joke around 

People will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases and will walk away from those that don’t. 

  • 60 per cent of people don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 50 per cent would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly.
  • If a brand uses humour, people are more likely to buy from the brand again (83 per cent), recommend the brand to family and friends (84 per cent), choose the brand over the competition (80 per cent), and spend more with a brand (71 per cent).
  • 93 per cent of business leaders see the opportunity to use humour to enhance the customer experience and believe that their brand can do more to make customers laugh or smile.
  • 70 per cent of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions. 
  • 89 per cent of business leaders state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humour. Business leaders would be more confident using humour when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (58 per cent) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (45 per cent). 

Supporting Quotes

“We’ve all been through some very tough years, and around the world, we’re short on happiness. We’re starved for experiences that make us smile and laugh, and brands can help,” said Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. “For brands aiming to contribute to the happiness of their target audience, the process starts with data and knowing your customers. Only then can you bring the appropriate mix of humor, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy.”

“The customer experience continues to evolve, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: Making the customer happy,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX). “There are many different factors that go into creating happy customers and in this research, we decided to examine humor as it is one of the most nuanced. As the results show, most business leaders want to make consumers laugh more and understand it’s a critical part of establishing a true relationship. To be successful, brands need to put data at the heart of their customer experience strategy.”\

Learn more about this global report here.


Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. across the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and Columbia between January 3-27, 2022. For this survey, 12,183 consumers, including 3,125 business leaders across marketing, sales and customer service, were asked general questions about the impact of the pandemic on happiness and openness to seeing an emotion like humour inserted into advertising, marketing, sales and customer service activities as part of the overall customer experience. The report targeted consumers and full-time business leaders 21 years of age or older. Respondents were recruited through several different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panellists have passed a double opt-in process and completed on average 300 profiling data points before taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this report, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 0.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.