Date:Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Author:Christian Ward

In this episode, Emilia Morano-Williams, Stylus' US editor, explores the psychology of fun: how can brands help consumers seek happiness in these troubled times? Joining her to discuss this are Dr Travis Oh, assistant professor of Marketing at Yeshiva University, and Elspeth Taylor, Consumer Attitudes & Technology assistant editor at Stylus.

Guest on this Episode

Dr Travis Oh is an assistant professor of Marketing at Yeshiva University in New York. Oh's research primarily examines the underlying psychological processes and meanings of consumption experiences, with a focus on conceptualising and investigating having fun in consumers' lives.

Elspeth Taylor is a Consumer Attitudes & Technology assistant editor at Stylus.

Episode Discussion Points

  • How does a consumer psychologist define fun? [1:24]
  • Why fun is hard to come by right now [2:44]
  • Why brands need to distinguish between leisure activities and true fun [4:23]
  • Differing consumer approaches to fun [6:15]
  • On the meta emotions consumers will experience when Covid diminishes [11:21]
  • How can brands communicate a sense of hope if communicating fun feels inappropriate? [14:13]
  • What will happen when consumers are finally liberated from the threat of Covid? [17:14]

Key Quotes

On defining the concept of fun:

"Fun is a pleasurable experience that is characterised by these two major psychological pillars that I call hedonic engagement, and a sense of liberation. And these two combined, contribute to defining an experience as fun for us." [02:12]
Travis Oh

On how brands can help consumers find emotional release:

"[Brands should do] all they can to let the pressure off the consumers. One of the most successful marketing slogans, which has only been around for less than 20 years, is 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas'. That allowed, psychologically, consumers to come to the city and say, 'it's okay for me to be a little bit transgressive.' And I think marketers, as they invite consumers to their brands, can tell them that 'it's okay to come here and be yourself.'" [10:17]
Travis Oh

On helping consumers deal with post-Covid guilt and other 'meta emotions':

"There will be residual meta emotions that consumers will experience when the bodily threat of Covid diminishes. For example, people might be going out and having a sense of joy when they're finally on holiday, but that sense of joy might be accompanied by the emotion of guilt or self-judgment. Brands need to anticipate these other levels of emotions and build in extra solutions to help – one way of doing this is perhaps building in an altruistic aspect to their activities to help diminish any sort of consumer guilt." [11:21]
Elspeth Taylor

On post-Covid opportunities for brands:

"There may well be a big boom in dating apps and initiatives that really enable people getting together in [a] serendipitous way. That's really been missing." [19:48]
Elspeth Taylor

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