How to Spread Digital Happiness – Insights from Positive Psychology and more...

How to Spread Digital Happiness – Insights from Positive Psychology


Big Picture. How do we use digital technology to help make people happy?

We can use ‘PPIs’ – positive psychology interventions – that are clinically proven to promote happiness and wellbeing (positive psychologists research the psychology of  happiness and wellbeing).

So here are three PPIs – ‘positive psychology interventions’ – that we can adapt to digital.

  • PPI-1 The ARC of Happiness – The ARC of happiness refers to three universal drivers of happiness. Autonomy, our sense of choice and volition, Relatedness, our sense of feeling connected to and cared about by others, and Competence our sense of self-efficacy in the world. Psychologists use the ARC to discuss ‘quick wins’ in peoples lives that will boost our sense of autonomy, relatedness or competence. Applying the PPI to digital means taking existing campaigns, products or services and optimising them by refocusing on one of the ARC benefits
  • PPI-2 Signature Strengths – This PPI focuses on enhancing happiness by building peoples own unique strengths (as opposed to remedying weaknesses) Positive psychologists use a simple inventory – Values in Action – (VIA) of character strengths to identify strengths and then encourage people to find new ways to use them. Applying this PPI to digital means taking a signature brand strength and applying digitally it in a new way. We can also use the VIA test to humanise digital by innovating in a way that puts one of the seven core human character strengths into action

Wisdom and Knowledge
Creativity, Judgement, Perspective, Curiosity, Love of learning
Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, Zest
Love, Kindness, Social intelligence
Teamwork, Fairness, Leadership
Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-regulation
Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humour, Spirituality

  • PPI-3 Three Good Things: A simple and effective PPI is ‘Three Good Things’ which involves recalling three good things that have happened to you at the end of each day, and asking yourself why they happened. Tests show that 3GT is effective in boosting long term happiness. Applying this PPI to digital means identifying three good things that can happen to people as a consequence of using your brand. Focus on these and ideate around how digital technology would make this positive outcomes more likely, more meaningful and more impactful

Psychologists are interested in happiness because it is linked to so many positive outcomes – a longer life, healthier life, increased vitality, enhanced resilience, more success at work, better physical health and immune system functioning, faster recovery, more kindness, and better and more rewarding relationships. So when you are thinking about customer experience, and how digital experience can enhance it, think big.

If you want more on making happiness your business model, check out Applied Positive Psychology – and the excellent work of Dr Kate Hefferon (@katehefferon) and Dr Carolyn Mair (@Carolyn_UK), colleagues at the London College of Fashion.






Speed Summary: PSFK Future of Retail 2016 Report

Shopper Experience

Here’s a speed summary and embed of PSFK’s latest report on the Future of Retail 2016, with 10 practical recommendations (with examples) for designing a new shopper experience that will build value, drive sales and boost loyalty.

There’s some good practical thinking in there with some stimulating examples. Psychologically, recommendations #1, #2 and #10 are particularly strong.

Enhancing Purchase Path

1. CREATE CONFIDENCE – Providing shoppers with the tools and advice to help them discover new products  and choose the option best suited to their lifestyles and need (product immersion + guided recommendations). Examples: @Sephora online matching service for ideal perfume, @ThePirch tryvertising

2. ELIMINATE OBSTACLES – Saving customers time and effort (#ConvenienceTech) along the purchase path through streamlined technology and services (1-click transactions, shop ahead, purchase anywhere platforms). Examples: @Starbucks order ahead on smartphone, @Macys scan garments on the rack to get them delivered them to the fitting room, @MikMakTV shoppable videos

Building Better Relationships

3. DEMOCRATIZE ACCESS – Opening the door for consumers to take advantage of services and experiences that were previously too exclusive or expensive (customer concierges, aspirational experiences). Examples: @StichFix affordable personal shopper, @RebeccaMinkoff VR fashion show

4. RECOGNIZE & PERSONALIZE – Putting systems in place for remembering and acting on the purchase history and preferences of customers, and tailoring those experiences over time (360-degree service, predictive assistance). Examples: @Walgreens pharmacy app anticipates needs (e.g. Rx refills), @modaoperandi instore CRM for high-touch store service

5. PROMOTE TRANSPARENCY – Being upfront with consumers about the policies and processes that underlie the products and services that they’re buying into (reciprocal relationships, storied products). Examples: @Waitrose loyalty scheme allows members to pick their own deals. @Amazon Elements product line allows customers to track items from creation to expiration

Creating a Valuable Community

6. PERFECT PARTNERSHIPS – Creating additional value for customers by collaborating with like-minded companies to deliver expanded offerings (cross-channel rewards, additive experiences). Examples: @Gap + @VirginHotels – order from Gap, get delivered to hotel room in 3hrs, @Instacart + @AllRecipes 1-click ordering and delivery of ingrediants

7. OPTIMIZE OWNERSHIP – Building a responsive support network that provides expert service and educates consumers after a purchase is made (Cultivated expertise, always-on support). @Patagona – Apparel mending bus tours country, @goEnjoy hand deliver electronics for personalised set-up

8. CULTIVATE COMMUNITY – Creating opportunities for consumers and fans to come together around the halo of a brand to build value on top of existing products and services (cultural hubs, collaborative marketplaces). Examples: @bjornborg underwear launches dating app based on fitness, @audi Unite co-leasing program lets drivers share benefits of ownership at reduced cost

Elevating the Top Tier

9. ENCOURAGE ADVOCACY – Tapping consumers for their knowledge and feedback to create opportunities for them to advocate on your behalf (hopper-led exchange, crowd buy-in). Examples: @Sony First Flight crowdfunded platform allows brands to test future products, @chevrolet allows prospective buyers to talk to existing owners

10. DELIVER DELIGHT – Providing unexpected perks and promotions that re-energize existing relationships and build on the broader brand promise (insider exclusives). Examples: @kennethcole invites allows shoppers to text to open a store whenever they want, @nike runs invite-only experiences for influencers


The Future of Digital Advertising – Uberfy or Die [Presentation Download]


Here’s a vision for the future of digital advertising that I presented yesterday at IAB Engage in London with SYZYGY Group’s media unit, Unique Digital.

With 1000+ delegates, the theme of IAB’s signature event was how to move digital advertising to ‘higher ground’ (and out of the cheap seats of commoditised products). The downloadable deck makes the case that no amount of introspective navel-gazing or technology will mend either of the two fundamentally broken relationships in advertising today – the brand-audience relationship and the agency-client relationship. Instead of self-absorbed introspection or blind faith in technology and algorithms, we as an industry need to look outside of ourselves for a new role model. Uber, valued at over $50bn, may be the disruptive role model the advertising industry needs:

  1. The Future of Advertising is Convenience Tech – helping making it quicker and easier for people to find, choose, buy, enjoy and advocate.  Uber is not always cheaper, but it reduces the other two of the three costs involved in any transaction – time and effort. Advertising needs a new value proposition – we need to make things quicker and easier for people. In this new world of advertising – Content is not King. Convenience is King
  2. The Future of Advertising is owning Relationships not Costs – Uber doesn’t own cars (just as AirBnB doesn’t own properties, Apple own music, or Priceline own hotels), but it owns the relationship with the customer (mostly because the taxi industry had been so bad at doing so). Owning stuff is expensive, owning relationships is profitable.  Uber teaches is that digital disruption is not about disintermediation, it’s about intermediation. It’s about the rise of new digital intermediaries that own relationships, not costs. We need to partner with these new digital intermediaries whilst reinventing ourselves as value-enhancing intermediaries too – owning the relationship between manufacturers and their markets
  3. The Future of Advertising is Business Model Innovation – Uber teaches us that technology is not disruptive, business models are.  We will only mend the broken relationships in advertising (brand-audience, client-agency) through business model innovation, not technology, algorithms or ad formats.  We can start in good faith by acting on our core insight and advertising truth that advertising only works when you have something worth advertising. Instead of cynically taking budgets for doomed campaigns, we should be helping brands build products and services that are worth advertising.  If we innovate our business model in this way, we become business partners, not suppliers of commoditised ad space and creative.

That’s why the future of advertising is a cab company.


Wearable Tech and the Psychology of Fashion [Study]


Today, the Apple Watch Hermès collection goes on sale, marking a new foray of tech into luxury fashion. A purchase will set you back a minimum of $1,150 (US) depending on which Hermès leather band you choose.

So, can tech win in or with fashion? It’s an open question, but to do so, tech companies will need to understand the basic psychology of fashion.  Fortunately, a recent study has been published outlining the psychology of fashion that was conducted at the London College of Fashion by Dr Kate Hefferon and Christoph-Simon Masuch.  It provides some useful insight for tech companies looking to enter the world of fashion.

Hedonic & Eudaimonic Wellbeing

Fashion makes us feel good and generates feelings of pleasure. Think about flicking through beautiful fashion images in a magazine, or putting on your favourite outfit. But fashion can also provide us with a meaning and fulfilment – our clothes can have sentimental, nostalgic or even supernatural value (your lucky pants!).  These two psychological benefits of fashion are known as Hedonic wellbeing and Eudaemonic wellbeing.

For tech to win in fashion, we need to deliver on both

  • Hedonic Wellbeing – promoting pleasure and personal satisfaction through sensorial appeal
  • Eudaemonic Wellbeing – providing meaning, purpose and sense of fulfilment

Three Ways to Maximise Appeal

Digging deeper into the psychology of fashion using grounded analysis, the LCF researchers identified three  benefits of fashion that contribute to psychological wellbeing. Focusing on these benefits in the marketing of   fashion-oriented tech will help you connect and resonate with potential buyers

  • Negotiating Selfhood – Combining self-expression (‘expressing aspects of self’ – characteristics, likes, dislikes) with social norms (‘creating sameness’)
  • Befriending the Body – Appearance management and impression management, concealing weaknesses and accentuating strengths
  • Managing Mood – ‘Catalysing cheerfulness’ on a good day, and ‘camouflaging on a bad day’

Understanding the links between positive psychology and fashion: A grounded theory analysis. International Journal of Fashion Studies, 1 (2), 227- 246.


Hefferon Model


The psychological benefits of fashion from: Masuch, S. & Hefferon, K. (2014). Understanding the links between positive psychology and fashion: A grounded theory analysis. International Journal of Fashion Studies, 1 (2), 227- 246.



How marketers use 20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions

Cognitive Bias

It’s rare that psychology goes viral, but here’s a latest infographic from Business Insider that has done just that:  ‘20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions‘ (thanks to Dr Carolyn Mair of the London College of Fashion for catching it).

The infographic provides a simple introductory summary to our apparent irrationality in love, life and shopping. So here’s the infographic, along with 20 marketing applications.

  1. Anchoring Bias – People are overreliant on the first piece of information they hear.
  2. Availability Heuristic – When people overestimate the importance of information that is available to them
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product as a solution to particular problem (to which we then overestimate the importance)
  3. Bandwagon Effect – The probability of one person adopting a belief increases based on the number of people who hold that belief.
    • How it’s used –  Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product as the #1 (best rated, best selling, fastest growing etc)
  4. Blind-spot Bias – Failing to recognize your cognitive biases is a bias in itself.
  5. Choice Supportive Bias – When you choose something, you tend to feel positive about it, even if the choice has flaws
  6. Clustering Illusion – This is the tendency to see patterns in random events (or clouds).
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product as a perfect fit to a person’s set of needs (that may well be unrelated)
  7. Confirmation Bias – We tend to listen only to the information that confirms our preconceptions
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by fitting a product in with your preconceptions and expectations, such as using ‘positive tests‘ to conform what you expect
  8. Conservatism Bias – Where people believe prior evidence more than new evidence or information that has emerged
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product as fitting with your traditional and long-held beliefs
  9. Information Bias – The tendency to seek information when it does not affect action.
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness through the oversupply of information, more information may not be better information, but we can perceive it that way
  10. Ostrich Effect – The decision to ignore dangerous or negative information by “burying” one’s head in the sand, like an ostrich (is supposed to, but doesn’t do)
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by downplaying or not communicating potential risks or downsides
  11. Outcome Bias – Judging a decision based on the outcome — rather than how exactly the decision was made in the moment
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by focusing on the benefit of the product, rather than the product itself
  12. Overconfidence Effect – Some of us are too confident about our abilities, and this causes us to take greater risks in our daily lives
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product as helping us attain unlikely, but desired goals performance or ambitions
  13. Placebo Effect – When simply believing that something will have a certain impact on you causes it to have that effect
  14. Pro-innovation Bias – When a proponent of an innovation tends to overvalue its usefulness and undervalue its limitations
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product to us as new, innovative, ‘next generation’ or trendsetting
  15. Recency Effect – The tendency to weigh the latest information more heavily than older data
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by controlling the last message we see – often at the point of sale, such as on-pack labelling or online product descriptions.
  16. Salience – Our tendency to focus on the most easily recognizable features of a person or concept
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness using distinctive ‘stand-out’ associations, sensory assets and messages
  17. Selective perception – Allowing our expectations to influence how we perceive the world.
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by targeting existing satisfied customers; you are more likely to pay attention and make a repeat purchase
  18. Stereotyping – Expecting a group or person to have certain qualities without having real information about the individual
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by pandering to cultural stereotypes we use (consciously or unconsciously)
  19. Survivorship bias – An error that comes from focusing only on surviving examples, causing us to misjudge a situation.
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by focusing on positive outcomes (independently of whether the product produced them)
  20. Zero-risk bias – Sociologists have found that we love certainty — even if it’s counter productive
    • How it’s used – Enhancing marketing effectiveness by presenting a product or service to us as risk-free

20 Cognitive Biases


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