U.S. Kids Rank Fifth in First-Ever Global Kids Happiness Index

CHICAGO, Dec. 10, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The first-ever Global Kids Happiness Index, created by brand activation agency The Marketing Store Worldwide (TMSW), shows that kids in the U.S. rank fifth when it comes to being happy. According to the index, kids in Mexico are the happiest with kids in Spain, Brazil, and Germany following closely, in that order.

The Global Kids Happiness Index was developed as part of "The New Definition of Childhood" Global Kids Study (www.globalkidsstudy.com). The research asked more than 4,000 children aged 6-12 years in 12 countries (U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, China, Australia) what it's like to be growing up in the world today.

"Given the constant stream of bad news in the media and challenging times faced by so many communities and families today, you might expect today's kids to be feeling pretty unhappy. But our research shows that happiness is the most common state for kids no matter the age, ethnicity, or location," says Renee Weber, V.P. of Consumer Strategy and Research at The Marketing Store Worldwide.

According to TMSW's research, the most important sources of kids' happiness, across almost all countries, are family and friends. Correspondingly, most kids said they feel very close to their family (99% agree; 82% strongly agree) and have very good friends (98% agree; 65% strongly agree). "Play" consistently ranked third among sources of happiness. Interestingly, the one exception was Japan where kids say that playing and video games outrank family and friends as influencing their happiness.

Beyond the top 3, happiness drivers varied greatly by country. For instance, competition and accomplishments were rarely mentioned by U.S. kids, but were frequently mentioned by Chinese kids. Japanese kids often reported "the arts" (drawing, music, crafts) as making them happy. U.S. kids frequently mentioned "animals" (dogs, cats, pets, birds) as an important source of their happiness.

Another finding that is consistent across all countries is that Global Kids happiness is not something that improves with age. More than three quarters of six-year olds (76%) say they "feel happy most of the time." By the time they are twelve years old, less than two-thirds (62%) feel that way. Correspondingly, younger kids are slightly happier being their age compared to older kids. This decline in happiness coincides with—or is partly driven by—kids' changing worldview. At six years of age, the majority of kids (58%) strongly view the world "as a good place." By twelve years of age, less than half agree (41%).

Happiness Index yields important implications for marketers.

Regardless of the drivers, Global Kids Happiness Index data provides some important guidelines for marketers looking to connect with kids and their families.

1. Do not assume that kids are unhappy or jaded, as happiness tends to be their normal state. Marketers who focus on the dissatisfied, rebellious child have not only lost touch with the majority sentiment but will find it difficult to connect with kids, tweens, and their parents.

2. While marketers should be cognizant of global or local events that might directly impact kids' happiness and stress levels, they'd be better served by understanding how they authentically contribute to the general drivers of happiness, including social connection with family and friends.

3. Contrary to common belief, younger kids do NOT want to be older. While they may desire to have some things that older kids have, they are very happy being their age. Brands should celebrate childhood rather than pushing them to "grow up." Give kids the opportunity to stay younger longer by encouraging activities that allow them to be (and act) their age.

About The Marketing Store Worldwide

As one of the largest brand activation agencies in the world, The Marketing Store Worldwide delivers tangible interactions that engage people, influence purchase and build brands. Its approach, "Inspiration: Applied" delivers inspirations that compel people to act within flawlessly executed programs that drive consumer behavior. Areas of expertise include: youth & family marketing, CRM, loyalty programs, digital, direct, and consumer promotions. We specialize in creating and sustaining high-value customer relationships for clients such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, L'Oreal, and Nissan. The Marketing Store Worldwide has offices across the globe in 12 countries and is part of the HAVI Group, a privately held company headquartered just outside Chicago. Follow @marketingstore on Twitter or visit http://www.themarketingstore.com.

Liane Adduci

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Source: The Marketing Store Worldwide