Doing It Together – Consumer Trends at Join the Dots

At the beginning of the year, we introduced our Happiness Framework, where our current happiness drivers are Positive Emotions, Engagement, Meaning, Relationships and Achievements. Grounded in academic studies on positive psychology and happiness theories, the framework seeks to demonstrate how happiness is influenced not only by external factors, but also by the basic desire for something new. These external macro factors are constantly changing, and while they are often beyond our individual control they are also culturally specific, hence the importance of adopting a cultural lens to understand how external forces impact and shape consumers’ behaviours and needs.

This article focuses on a trend we’ve called ‘doing it together’, where being part of something bigger and contributing part of the self to a greater cause can have a direct effect on overall happiness. This trend links to two of the happiness drivers: Meaning and Relationships.

Having a sense of community and social civic-mindedness is deeply embedded across the various cultures in Asia, and meaning is derived from the contribution towards something larger than the self. It is human nature to seek out relationships and establish bonds, since many of our experiences revolve around other people. Feeling close to, and valued by, other people and within society is a fundamental human need. In many cultures across Asia, ‘cluster identity’ and togetherness are key, and happiness is often socially extended. Brands can be part of these chains of goodwill if they are generous and timely with their support. There are also opportunities to target consumers’ emotional mind-sets by identifying opportunities to rally behind or create moments for consumers to band together and effect change.

People the world over are becoming increasingly impatient and restless for change to happen. They are becoming fed-up with the perceived inactivity from governments to take charge and effect any real change in protecting the people. From the 2008 infant milk formula scandal and the recent vaccine scandal in China to the continued sexual assault cases in India, such safety lapses continue to disenchant consumers’ faith in the reliability of authority, propelling them to take matters into their own hands. Spurred on by social media, many are linking up with like-minded people with similar views to make things happen. In Asia, this change is effected from the ground up, with people no longer waiting for things to start changing from the top down. It is time to take action.

In the middle of this year, the taxi booking app in China, Didi Chuxing, added a number of safety features to its services, including an SOS button to let passengers send an alert to their emergency contacts, and the company has trained Didi SOS Taskforce members to check in on passengers in real-time. In India, Safetipin is an app that uses the power of crowdsourcing to locate the safest routes in any given city, giving people a chance to get involved and stand up against sexual assault. Last year during the haze-wrought period, Uber Singapore rallied to bring free haze masks to consumers on-demand with its #UberHEALTH pack containing four N95 masks.

However, while brands may have the best intentions when it comes to ‘doing it together’, much is down to the execution. GrabTaxi’s Love Boobs campaign in 2015, while rooted in a positive place, was intrusive and deemed inappropriate by many due to the language and notifications used. Good intentions can very often go wrong when the messaging context is not carefully considered.

In 2017, we’ll be introducing our updated Happiness Framework, which has been reviewed and redeveloped to best suit the understanding of consumers in Asia. Stay tuned!