Disruptive Marketing: Re-defining industry norms and focusing on pursuing happiness


It’s been a tough year for the UK. That’s undeniable. Of course, not just for the UK, also more broadly. In the face of a cost-of-living crisis and financial instability, it’s time for brands to be doing things differently when it comes to how they show up and help their consumers in these environments. Now, more than ever, consumers are prioritising value-led and experience-focused purchases. Generation Z and Millennials are spending on experiences that are important to their values, despite the economic crisis, and brands that are succeeding are those that understand their customers enough to anticipate their needs and preferences – driving demand by creating new experiences that fuel joy for their consumers. 

Customer sentiment is key for success  

Research from our Carat Brand EQ3 report highlighted that brands who become experts in creating happiness are more likely to succeed in today’s commercial landscape. It’s self-awareness and empathy that distinguish top performers; brands that prioritise a meaningful value exchange and reshape the existing consumer experience landscape will come out on top.  

At our 2024 Seichō event series, Angela Tangas, Chief Executive Officer, dentsu UK&I, explored talked about how it’s the job of brands “to think about what the consumer’s going to do and how they’re going to engage with brands, and therefore what the experience is”. She also highlighted Gen Z in particular – how they have “high expectations on what good experiences look like” and because they have less disposable income, they are “cautious about where they spend their money”.  

As our Read the Room 2024 report stresses, a happier society means a growing economy. 70% of Gen Z say that they are looking for brands to demonstrate emotional intelligence and understanding in their advertising. Therefore, the pursuit of consumer happiness isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’. It’s essential. 

The shift from GDP to GWP 

For the last century, the health of a country has been measured through the health of its economy – its GDP. However, the relentless pursuit by governments to grow their GDP has pushed our people and our planet to the limit. It’s created an unsustainable imbalance between the economy and the well-being of the people. As the largest financial newspaper in the world and creator of Japan’s leading Stock Exchange index, Nikkei realised the only way to prevent the system from collapsing is to reshape it.  

The well-being index tracks a spectrum of well-being indicators with thousands of Japanese citizens and aggregates them into a single metric called GDW – Gross Domestic well-being. It’s been introduced to Japan’s government officials and the largest traded companies as a true indicator of how the people of Japan are doing. Various top companies launched well-being initiatives to contribute to the GDW, appealing to investors and workers. The well-being index was published by the Nikkei newspaper, read weekly by over 6 million business leaders. The initiative is transforming every aspect of society, mental health, the environment, and the wealth gap. It’s the beginning of a true commitment from policy makers and corporations to create a more sustainable future.  

Risk VS Reward 

The risk for brands that don’t consider people’s happiness and well-being in their approaches, is that they will get left behind by competitors that do pivot their strategies with this in mind. Focusing on the value of happiness as a metric will be the differentiator that drives growth for brands. Leaning into dentsu’s principles of ‘Sanpo Yoshi’: principle, stimulating happiness can create real benefits for both businesses and society.  

This new definition of success highlights a direct correlation to happiness and improving GDP. By understanding consumer behaviours and habits, giving them a more positive experience when engaging with brands, will consequently help to drive more growth through the ecosystem. When brands grow and invest with their consumers in mind, Sanpo Yoshi becomes even more important. Those correlations between purposeful impact driving performance and fuelling GDP stimulates performance through the marketplace. As brands invest, consumers invest - and that helps to create a whole circular economy of happiness.  

As we look ahead, brands should consider incorporating happiness into their business strategies to prepare for becoming future-ready. Creating joy-provoking experiences for consumers will help to secure loyalty for the long term. Here at dentsu, we’ll be encouraging our clients to power ahead with our Sanpo Yoshi approach, helping to elevate people, society, and business all at once.  

Get in touch to find out more about how you can pivot your strategies to succeed in this new economic landscape. Download our Read the Room report for 2024, and take a look at our dentsu Creative 2024 Trends report, or our Global AdSpend Forecast to learn more.