20 September 2022

Thank goodness for the hedonic treadmill

We live in amazing times.

Society as a whole has never been so rich. Most of us can buy things and experience things kings of yesteryear could only dream of.

And yet, as a culture, we’re not happy. Why is that?

There are different reasons but one is something called the hedonic treadmill.

It’s the idea that we have a baseline level of well-being – a “set point.”  That set point is different from person to person. Some people are mildly negative by default. Other people are mildly positive. A few are at either extreme.

As things happen, the well-being level changes. Good things happen and the level goes up. Bad things happen and the level goes down.

But no matter what happens – over time – the person’s level of well-being will always drift back to the set point.

As marketers, this affects us in many ways. Let’s talk about a couple.

#1: No matter what we sell, or how much they benefit from what we sold them, the customer will reach a point where they don’t “remember” the feeling of that benefit.

This makes customer retention harder, especially for subscriptions that rely on them “feeling” the benefits repeatedly over time.

If you’re selling a subscription, you need to put more effort into retention to address this issue.

#2: On the other hand, it’s an opportunity. Because as the emotional pain of their problems come back, they’ll start looking for a solution.

If they were happy with you before, they’re more likely to do business with you again.

They might even spend more to solve the problem, thinking that a bigger package will help them solve the problem forever.

At least, until the hedonic treadmill kicks in and they show up at your door once more.

About the Author

Brandon Roe is a direct-response marketing strategist, copywriter and best-selling author who has worked with clients in 8 countries and 3 languages over the last 20+ years.

He helps firms in the financial publishing and natural health industries use proven marketing to grow their sales faster.