Happy wife, happy life? Recent research confirmed what we felt for decades: wife happiness is a key performance indicator of marital bliss. A 1 point increase in wife happiness translates into a 1.3 point jump in husband life satisfaction, while the reverse only yields a 0.5 point increase (see the Wall Street Journal’s article at http://online.wsj.com/articles/happier-wives-lead-to-happier-couples-1411154342).
But does this automatically mean that “If married men are smart, they’ll work on boosting their wives’ marital satisfaction”, as the WSJ opens? Not according to my latest Marketing Science article with Mike Hanssens, Shuba Srinivasan, Marc Vanhuele and Gokhan Yildirim. (http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/pdf/10.1287/mksc.2013.0841). High conversion (e.g. from wife happiness into marital bliss) is necessary but not sufficient for a metric to focus your actions. For a more complete picture, check out these 5 C.R.I.S.P. features of an actionable metric:
1) Conversion: does the metric convert into performance? For instance, brand love converts more to sales for low-involvement products and in mature markets, while brand consideration converts more in emerging markets (Chapter 10 in www.notsizedata.com)
2) Responsiveness: does the metric respond to actions under your control? In the marital example, it is key for the husband to understand which of his actions drive wife happiness
3) Impact of an action on performance in the short term = Conversion x Responsiveness
4) Stickiness means that changes to the metric have staying power. The long-term effect of an action on performance equals Impact x Stickiness. In the marital bliss case, how long do increases in wife happiness last? All else being equal, husbands prefer to take actions that increase their wives’ happiness for a longer time.
5) Potential means that the metric has room to grow in the first place. This feature is the easiest to compute, and intuitively predicts the previous features. For instance, Coke has reached near-100% brand awareness in many countries, but its ‘daily drinking’ metric still has room to grow. Therefore, Coke should probably focus on increasing this metric, finding actions that lead to a sticky response with high conversion to sales revenues.
Bottom line: for metrics to focus your actions, check for their performance Conversion, their Responsiveness to your actions, their short-term Impact, their Stickiness and their Potential (C.R.I.S.P.). And make sure your wife is very happy.
4 thoughts on “Wife happiness as a Metric for Marital Bliss: apply the latest in Marketing Science!”
This is an interesting take on metrics to focus on. Most husbands look for ‘impact’, and care more about immediate gratification. But for both brands and wives. the important things to look for are actions that have long term impact. This is perhaps a key to strong brands and strong marriages!
thanks, Tanveer! you are indeed correct for both brands and spouses. Going beyond your comments, I would say that brand equity and wife happiness are worthwhile to pursue for their own sake, even if no (immediate) conversion takes place to e.g. brand sales and husband life satisfaction. Colleagues Tim Ambler (LBS) and Don Lehmann (Columbia) would agree with me….
great comment by a coauthor’s wife: “there are many metrics that could drive my happiness.. The most difficult thing is to find which metric(s) drive(s) my happiness and marital satisfaction… And, even worse, sometimes one metric works better, but sometimes not…” Exactly, and such unpredictability applies not only to happiness, but also to what drives consumers and competitors. Smart marketing is the toughest challenge in a company because there are no always-true rules in how customers and competitors will behave in the future. Stay tuned for my next blog on dealing with risk in marketing decision making
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