A new European cultural study unveiled today looking at the reasons why people are happy shows that UK adults could take inspiration from the next generation on how to be happier.

Young people in the UK are often portrayed as moody and obsessed with instant gratification, however the findings of this study challenge perceptions and show that young people are in fact leading the way in the pursuit of happiness.

The research, conducted amongst 3,000 young people across Europe, includes the views of 1,000 teens and young adults (Generation Z) and parents in the UK. The study found that UK teens and young adults are in fact happier than many parents, with young people rating their happiness at 6.2 on a scale of 1-10, in comparison to parents who rated theirs at 5.9.

The study revealed that according to teens and young adults in the UK, friends and family are equally important for happiness (45% and 44% respectively), with both coming in as the top reason for happiness amongst the group. Social life was ranked as the third most important contributor, with 26% of those who took part agreeing it was most important. The research also revealed that amongst the group, males are slightly happier than females, rating their happiness levels on average at 6.4 versus 6.0.

In comparison, parents in the UK ranked family as the key to happiness; with 68% in agreement that it was the most important factor. Friendship clearly becomes less important the older you get, with only 24% of parents agreeing it is most important for happiness. And social life comes even further down the list for parents in the UK, with only 11% believing it’s the most important ingredient for a happy life.

Amongst teens and young adults, self-image is the most significant barrier to happiness, with 21% of respondents identifying it as a source of unhappiness. Although only 11% of males said self-image was a source of unhappiness amongst females it was 32%. In second place, finances also play on the mind of UK teens and young adults (19%). For parents, unsurprisingly, finances come top of the list (33%) of things most unlikely to make them happy with career path coming in as the second reason (14%).

To support the European cultural study, parents in the UK were asked if they’d like re-visit their teenage years and nearly half (43%) said they’d love to wind back the clock. Over three quarters of parents (78%) feel more stressed than they did in their teenage years, 67% feel more worried, almost a third (31%) feel less happy and over a quarter (28%) feel less content.

The study also revealed that young adults and teens take a very different approach to making themselves happy compared to parents. Although three quarters of parents, teens and young adults agree that happiness is a choice, just over half of parents are willing to ask for help to make themselves feel happy, compared with almost 8 out of 10 teens. 50% of teens and young adults said that they looked to take up a new skill to make them feel happier but only 19% of parents tried to do the same.

Experts who carried out the detailed cultural study highlighted three key ways that Generation Z is approaching happiness:

•  Doing small, multiple and attainable things, rather than striving for big, singular and intimidating goals
•  Allowing themselves to be spontaneously joyful and playful
•  For young people, happiness is a social emotion, and being hyper-connected means happiness can be shared instantly and in real time

Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness said: “This study shows that teens see happiness as important and within their control. Rather than deferring happiness to the future and associating it with big - and sometimes unachievable - goals, teens are good at living in the moment and appreciating the small everyday things. Their happiness comes less from what they consume or own - and more from their relationships with family and friends. And rather than being focused just on self-gratification, this research uncovers how teens love to be authentic, to contribute creatively and to push boundaries together in a collaborative way. It seems we could all learn a lot from this generation of teens".

Beth Reekles, teen and young adult author and expert on the study said: “The European cultural study challenges common misconceptions about my generation and shows that Generation Z are out there creating opportunities and taking responsibility for our own happiness. I hope the study’s findings encourage adults to take inspiration from young adults and appreciate that happiness can be an active choice that they can make in their lives, even if it's just the little moments of happiness in an average day. I recently made a decision to start owning up to the things that make me happy – no matter how small, weird or silly they seemed – and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

The European cultural study challenges common misconceptions about my generation and shows that Generation Z are out there creating opportunities and taking responsibility for our own happiness. I hope the study’s findings encourage adults to take inspiration from young adults and appreciate that happiness is an active choice that they can make in their lives. I recently made a decision to start owning up to the things that make me happy – no matter how small, weird or silly they were – and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

The ‘Why Generation Z is Choosing Happiness – A Happiness Study’ was published by Coca-Cola today. The study researched 3,331 15-19 year olds across eight countries in Europe with a further 532 parents of 15-19 year olds surveyed in the UK.

-ENDS-
 

How happy are you on a scale of 1-10? Teens and young adults

Parents

 

6.2

5.9

 

Males (6.4) Females (6.0)

Dads (5.9) Mums (5.9)

What are the building blocks to happiness?

Teens and young adults

Parents

Friends

45%

24%

Family

44%

68%

Social

26%

11%

Love life

19%

23%

What are the biggest barriers to happiness?

Teens and young adults

Parents

Self-image

21%

10%

Finances

19%

33%

Career path

12%

14%

Asking for help in order to make themselves feel happy

Teens and young adults

Parents

 

76%

57%

Top actions taken to be happy

Teens and young adults

Parents

Using social media

58%

31%

Learning new skills

50%

19%

Phoned a family member

36%

50%

Achieving goals

18%

7%

Is happiness choice or chance?

Teens and young adults

Parents

 

74%

74%

Parents and their teenage years

 

 

Would like to revisit teenage years

43%

Feel more stressed now

78%

Feel more worried now

67%

Feel less happy

31%

Feel less content 

28%

Notes to Editors:

For further information, imagery or case studies related to the Coca-Cola Choose Happiness campaign, please email choosehappiness@lexisagency.com

About the cultural study
For the ‘Why Generation Z is Choosing Happiness – A Happiness Study’, Coca-Cola conducted a quantitative study with Tapestry Research of 3,331 teenagers aged 15-19 across eight European countires (UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway).

The Cultural Intelligence Practice at Flamingo London then pressure-tested the findings with a round table expert salon event in February before a panel of teens and cultural commentators including:

• Beth Reekles, Teen and YA author, named one of the world’s most influential teens by Time magazine (UK)
• Tom Palmaerts, youth trendwatcher (Belgium)
• Chloe Bingham, teen and employment campaigner (UK)
• Dr Robert Holden, Director of The Happiness Project (UK)
• Dr Tom Chatfield, technology theorist, gaming and teen expert (UK)
• Dr Mark Williamson, director at Action for Happiness (UK)

Additional interviews were also conducted with:

• Dr Jean-Pierre Ternaux, neuroscientist (France)
• Sue Jackson, fashion and beauty blogger (Ireland)
• Tommie Rose, teen and entrepreneur (UK)
• Chinny Brown, teen (UK)
• Dr Anne-Lise Goddings, paediatrician and cognitive neuroscientist, expert on the teenage brain (UK)

Tapestry also conducted additional research with 532 parents of 15-19 year olds in the UK.

About Coca-Cola Great Britain
Coca Cola Great Britain is responsible for marketing 19 brands and over 100 products to consumers across Great Britain. Led by Coca Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognisable brands, our company portfolio includes Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Oasis, glaceau vitaminwater, glaceau smartwater, Schweppes, 5 Alive, Lilt, Kia Ora and Powerade. For more information about Coca Cola in Great Britain, please visit our website at www.coca-cola.co.uk.  

About the Cultural Intelligence Practice
The Cultural Intelligence Practice at Flamingo London specialises in tracking shifts, trends and emergent ideas through a cultural lens. Their Hivemind Community (250+ expert thinkers, makers and provocateurs across geographies and disciplines) help brands understand cultural forces and the manifestations of social change.