One Pound Buys 50% Less Happiness Than 25 Years Ago

By The Communications Agency, PRNE
Sunday, September 11, 2011

LONDON, September 12, 2011 -

Many adults recall life in their 20s as “the best days of my life,” but it’s certainly not a sentiment echoed by those in their mid-twenties today.  Despite being twice as rich in real terms they are no happier than their parents were at the same age.

A third (33%) of young people embarking on adult-life are unhappy realists, who don’t expect to be as happy as their parents when they reach the same age (47%).  But they’re also serial romantics, highly sociable and less materialistic.  Raised in the eco revolution they are conscientious consumers with ethical purchasing principles who strive to buy green.

The results of a new survey of 25 year-olds provides a refreshing glimpse about the state-of-mind of the generation that will soon be shaping our changing world. The research, commissioned by marketing company, The Communications Agency, to better understand this key age group, identifies the social triggers expected from retail brands.  It provides uncomfortable reading for those working in the multi-million pound advertising industry. The pollsters were firmly told that brands do not equal happiness and retailers must develop ways to make products and services more appealing. “Owning beautiful stuff” is no longer a priority and brands are certainly not coveted.        

With statisticians calculating £1 today buys only half as much happiness as it did 25 years ago, young workers think carefully about how and where to spend their hard-earned cash. In the Happiness Exchange Rate, items that give the least spending pleasure are drugs (60%); designer clothes (33%) and games consoles (32%).  

Nearly a third of 25 year olds receive little pleasure from splashing out on gym memberships while a quarter resent paying high prices for perfumes. They derive pleasure from easily attainable items or by participating in relaxing activities involving friends and family. Happiness is found in “small things”: a cup of tea, meals with friends, sport, IT, gaming or cheap trips out. Unsurprisingly, chocolate, beer, sex and wine also score well in their happiness-ranking stakes and “being in love” is rated as the top happiness marker.

The big-ticket items on the twenty-something’s wish-lists are a place of their own (66%), followed by a car (33%); a holiday (40%) and nearly a third (31%) said they’d love a new bed. But these dreams are a long way off with 63% realising they won’t be in a financial position to join the property ladder until they’re in their thirties.

Interestingly, while 57% of young people feel job prospects were better for their parents 25 years ago, no-one mentioned money when asked what would make them happy. It seems that personal growth, happy social lives and being engaged in interesting activities are the modern keys to fulfilment. (The majority feel Twitter and Facebook are over-rated but a dreamy 15% said spending more time on social media would give them long-term happiness).

The internet generation has very low trust levels, which is hardly surprising given the constant stream of media and spurious advertising delivered to their hand-welded devices.  They possess savvy consumer recognition of the inflated prices charged for some branded goods.  

Eighty-nine per cent of young people say they want companies to prove they’ve changed as a result of the recession. They are looking to purchase from sustainable businesses that are open and honest in their communication; offer value for money and do not make undue profits or pay huge bonuses.  

Robert Prevezer of The Communications Agency says: “The findings are a wake-up call for many branded-goods firms. Marketers will have to find ways of associating their brands with a bigger cause to help build better relations with these powerful 20-somethings if they wish to succeed. Rebuilding trust is paramount.”  Full results

Research conducted by One Poll involved interviews with 600 young people aged 24-26.  This is the third INSIGHTS report released by The Communications Agency.  The “25-year-olds happiness survey” coincides with TCA’s 25th trading anniversary.  An independent marketing agency, TCA advises brands, including Argos, Fiat, American Express, Warner Bros, Universal, NatWest and RBS. For authoritative commentary or opinions - on this or any topical marketing/advertising stories - please call Robert Prevezer or Adam Leigh on +44(0)20-7224-3456.  

THE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY.  +44(0)20-7224-3456; Full survey from:

PR enquiries: Ruth Deans +44(0)7752-990431 or +44(0)20-7224-3456 or ruth.deans at with marketing expert Robert Prevezer via Ruth Deans on +44(0)7752-990431

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