3 good, 3 bad and 6 truths

Most researchers, including research psychologist Hugh Mackay agree that WANTING MORE is a key driver of human behaviour. We all have some Oliver Twist in us.

Indeed, many of us might argue that wanting more is what makes the economy – and perhaps the world go round. Certainly wanting more can:

  • Boost sales
  • Motivate workers
  • Drive success

Many businesses owe their success to tapping into the need for more.

Equally wanting more can lead to some not so good things, including:

  • Greed
  • Crime
  • Drugs

Police, the divorce courts and confessional priests are kept busy addressing these outcomes.

But what do people really want more of. Many would say that it is:

  • Sex
  • Money
  • Good old days

But does more sex lead to more happiness? The research says not. It might be fun, but it seems that sex rarely delivers happiness.

Does more money lead to happiness? The research suggest that to a point, yes, but beyond that ‘comfort-point’ the answer is no.

Do the good old days deliver happiness? Well research suggests that people were no happier in the ‘good old days’ and as such a return to them will not help. The good old days were rarely as good as the current days rose coloured glasses make them look.

What we do know from research is that all people want to be happy, and I would argue that identifying what actually makes them happy and delivering it, is a key to real commercial and social success. This of course is very difficult because most people do not know what actually makes them happy – only knowing what they think makes them happy.

Research also tells us that people often display inaccurate insights into what makes them happy because they misread what makes them happy or simply accept what they think they cannot have and go after the next best thing.

People who cannot have the relationship they want might focus on building an empire. People who cannot have the health they want might focus on money.

Research suggests that the things people really want more of include:

  • Certainty
  • Variation
  • Feelings of significance
  • Feelings of growth
  • Connections
  • Community

I would argue that there are real merits in marketers:

  • Understand real needs
  • Understand underlying motivations
  • Helping customers understand both

I would argue that the best means of addressing these issues include:

  • Consumer insights
  • Observation
  • Market research

There is a great deal of academic data on consumer insights out there. Formal observation can be a powerful tool. Well designed market research able to get behind the human facade also offers real potential.

Tell me:

  • What do your customers really want more of?
  • If you knew, could you make them happier?
  • If you could make them happier, would they buy more?

This issue will be discussed in more detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK –

D. John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing and communication. Visit his blog –

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