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Study: Humour in ads a must, yet APAC biz leaders remain hesitant

Study: Humour in ads a must, yet APAC biz leaders remain hesitant

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The majority of consumers in Asia Pacific and Japan (89%) are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet Asia Pacific and Japan (JAPAC) business leaders said only 17% of their brands' offline ads and 14% of their online ads actively use humour. This is according to the Happiness Report from Oracle and Gretchen Rubin which surveyed 12,183 consumers and full-time business leaders 21 years of age and older globally including Singapore, China, India, Japan, and Australia.

This comes as 76% of respondents in JAPAC believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers, and 91% said they preferred brands to be funny. This number increased among Gen Z (95%) and Millennials (95%). Furthermore, 56% of people in JAPAC don't believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 49% would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly. 

Also, if a brand uses humour, people are more likely to buy from the brand again (82%), recommend the brand to family and friends (81%), choose the brand over the competition (76%), and spend more with a brand (67%).

Meanwhile, of the 1,006 consumers surveyed in Singapore, 90% said they are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet business leaders in Singapore said that only 18% of their brands’ offline ads and 14% of their online ads actively use humour.

At the same time, 58% of Singaporeans don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh.

Around 44% would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly.

Like their JAPAC counterparts, 81% in Singapore also believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to customers and 92% said they preferred brands to be funny. There's also an increase in this sentiment among Gen Z (98%) and Millennials (96%).

Furthermore, 80% of them are also more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends, buy from the brand again (79%), choose the brand over the competition (73%), and spend more with a brand (63%) if humour is involved.

Smiles and laughter pay dividends in the digital space

In JAPAC, 74% of people would follow a brand if it's funny on social media channels, yet only 12% of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social. Also, 68% of respondents would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 21% of JAPAC business leaders said they actively use humour in email marketing campaigns.

Humour also extends into the chatbot space, as 67% of respondents in the region prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 24% of JAPAC business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications. Interestingly, online shopping also had a positive effect on consumers, as 89% attempted to find happiness in eCommerce during the pandemic, while 47% said that receiving packages made them happy.

More specifically in Singapore, 77% of Singaporeans would follow a brand's social media channels if it is funny. However, only 10% of business leaders in the country said their brand is humorous on social.

Likewise, 70% of Singaporeans would open an email from a brand if it had a funny subject line but only 20% of leaders actively use humour in email marketing campaigns. On the chatbot/digital assistants front, 70% of Singaporeans would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant if it is funny, yet only 27% of leaders say their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications. 

oracle happiness report

Why are business leaders hesitant about using humour?

While smiles and laughter clearly pay dividends for business, leaders are unfortunately afraid to joke around. While 90% of business leaders in JAPAC 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, 76% fear using humour in customer interactions. On top of that, 87% state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humour.

Business leaders in JAPAC would also be more confident using humour when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (54%) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (37%).

In Singapore, the same number also cited visibility as a factor to having more confidence in using humour when engaging with customers, while 43% cited having access to advanced technologies such as AI.  Similar to their JAPAC counterparts, 79% in Singapore fear using humour in customer interactions even though 88% of them believe that doing so can enhance the customer experience. 

Jay Tuseth, VP, cloud applications, Oracle ASEAN explained that every organisation has a common goal of keeping customers happy and engaged.

"In Singapore, there is a significant gap in successfully delivering happiness to customers as many brands shy away from using humour. It is evident from our results that most business leaders want to make their customers laugh but are fearful of getting it wrong," he said. According to him, technology can be a true enabler. Tuseth added that by harnessing data and the insight to contextually deliver a happier experience, business leaders can drive lifelong loyalty.

Meanwhile, Tuseth told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that infusing humour into advertising helps to humanise a brand making it more attention grabbing, shareable, relatable and with higher brand recall.

"Humour can indeed pay dividends but only if it is done right. This process starts with data and a deep understanding of your audience," he said. As such, brands need to move beyond CRM models and introduce a connected suite of applications to create, manage, serve, and nurture lasting customer relationships.

Meanwhile, for MSMEs and SMEs that have yet to build up a large data pool, Tuseth said they can still make use of their existing data to strategise the best use of humour for their customers.

"Similar to large organisations, the data pool, no matter how small, is just as valuable in providing the relevant insights. Further, the data management process has shifted with increased consumer privacy needs," he explained. A critical step that MSMEs and SMEs should take would be to invest in a CX platform that can help connect their business data across advertising, marketing, sales, commerce and customer service to improve customer touch points across the value chain. This will help companies embark on creative advertising efforts such as on social media to attract and retain their customer base.

According to him, this gives brands a complete view of their audience and their every interaction—no matter how, when, where, or with whom they engage. This data can be turned into intelligence and intelligence into relevant and personalised experiences that reaches the right audience, in the right environment with measurable impact. "Humour may not be an exact science, but with data, finding that sweet spot is what gives brands that competitive advantage," he said.

Meanwhile, Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster, said for brands aiming to contribute to the happiness of their target audience, the process starts with data and knowing one's customers. "Only then can you bring the appropriate mix of humour, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy," Rubin added.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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