Why need satisfaction won’t make you happy, and why material things will make even less of an impact.

You probably know the saying "Money doesn't make you happy". We'll explain which other factors play a bigger role, and what all this has to do with your customers!

When was the last time you were consciously happy that your refrigerator was full and that you had a roof over your head? This is question is probably not easy to answer for you. As part of our target group, it’s very likely that you don’t have to worry about any of these things. No matter how bad the economic situation may be, nobody in Germany will starve or freeze to death because of it. Our basic needs are secured – but is that enough to make us happy? Other people have it much worse. Normally we should wake up every morning with a bright smile on our faces looking forward to a wonderful, safe day.

From experience we all know that this is not the case in practice. So what makes us happy? Is it perhaps money? After all, you can get everything you want for it, so why not buy yourself happy? In the following, I’ll explain why it is not only liquidity that causes this plan to fail. We’ll also take a look at the history of a country that became rich and then fell from its high horse to the very bottom. Finally, we’ll tell you how all this will help you better understand your customers.

Needs - Materialism - Happiness; an overview

Table of Contents

What do we know about happiness?

To find out more about happiness, let’s take a look at the current state of research. Of course, there are already a number of studies and investigations on happiness and its factors. Their findings are summarized, for example, in the paper “Research on happiness and economics” by the well-known happiness economist Bruno S. Frey. He outlines the following cornerstones:

  • People and households with higher incomes report being happier than those with lower incomes. This means they have a higher subjective life satisfaction. But: People also tend to get used to a higher income and still compare themselves with others who are even wealthier. This in turn has a negative effect on well-being.
  • One of the most significant factors in individual well-being is relationships. More precisely, satisfying personal relationships. That is, family, friends and acquaintances with whom one maintains a good relationship. People with such relationships are more satisfied with their lives than isolated individuals.
  • Mental and physical health are also important factors in happiness. This correlation also works the other way around: happy people are less affected by infectious diseases.
  • Democracy makes people happy – opportunities for participation and decentralized decision-making also contribute to life satisfaction.
Faktoren des Glücks
Several factors contribute to happiness

The Case study of "Nauru"

The island nation of Nauru is forgotten nowadays, but a few decades ago it was considered one of the richest countries in the world. In the meantime, it has become one of the poorest. The island nation is the third smallest country on the planet in terms of area and is home to about 11,000 people.


So how did this inconspicuous island make it to such great wealth, and how was it lost?

The first question has a surprising answer – namely bird droppings. Before humans colonized the island, birds used it as a toilet for a long time. The excrement contains phosphates – a valuable substance needed to make fertilizer. Over millions of years, birds covered the island with a thick layer of their droppings. Weathering produced a phosphate-containing substance called “guano”. Eventually, people realized the value they were sitting on and began to mine the substance. This led to an economic boom that for a time gave the tiny country the world’s highest gross domestic product per capita.


Then how did this country fall from the top to the bottom? 

On the one hand, the problem was that the origin of the wealth was limited. The guano was mined much faster than it was created – after all, the island’s resource wealth was the result of several million years. On the other hand, the inhabitants of Nauru did not handle the money sustainable – they literally squandered it. In other words, they founded their own airline, which at times even offered free flights. Other investments also went wrong, so that the country ended up not only without money, but also without phosphate in the early 1990s. About 80 percent of the land had been destroyed by phosphate mining, so the population now lives on the coast. Nauru also no longer has enough fertile soil to feed its population, and there is a shortage of jobs.

Looking back, therefore, serious mistakes were made because of the prospect of quick money. These include not only unwise investments, but also the partial destruction of the country’s own homeland. This case study shows quite impressively what consequences concentrating too much on materialistic aspects like money can have.

If you want to learn more about Nauru, the following video is a compact and entertaining review of the whole story.


What does that have to do with my customers?

We address the question of how customer relationships work and how they can be optimized on a daily basis. In our guide on how to improve B2B customer relationships, you’ll find ten practical tips that will help you do just that.

At the top of this list is “Not just satisfied, but thrilled!”. And that’s not a coincidence. After all, it’s only through extraordinary satisfaction – you could also say “happiness” – that you can make your customers feel that exactly you are The Best Choice for the Job. Ultimately, it is also about making the customers happy. And that doesn’t just mean satisfying their needs – they take that for granted. Instead, create an experience for them that is more than just meeting their expectations.

One way to achieve this is to provide excellent service that goes beyond customer expectations. But there are also many small things in your interaction with the customer that, when combined, offer him or her added value. This added value is what ultimately leads to an increase in the customer’s perceived happiness. And that feeling of happiness is more valuable than gold. This is what strengthens your relationship with the customer – something that money can’t buy.

Simply put, you should set yourself the goal of increasing your customer’s happiness. You can find many valuable tips on how to do this in our guide. Always keep in mind that interpersonal things like attention, the right wavelength and sincere attention also contribute to strengthening customer relationships, and that it’s not just about making the best offer on paper.


Yes, to a certain extent material goods do contribute to greater life satisfaction. However, once basic needs are satisfied, the correlation between money and happiness is rather weak. Instead, there are a variety of other drivers for a good and satisfied life.

So next time, instead of chasing the next extra hour for an even fatter paycheck, we should save our nerves for spending a little more time with our loved ones, getting some exercise in the fresh air, and getting involved for the good of the community to participate in shaping society.


About Me

As a Growth Marketing & Customer Experience expert, I experience the importance of a customer-centric product and marketing strategy on a daily basis.

Combining this with agile optimization processes and a corporate culture that encourages experimentation, you’ll get your growth right on track.


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