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99 and a Flake – The Ice Cream Index of 100 items reveals what’s making the nation sweet this summer

Research by Zopa, the FeelGood MoneyTM company, reveals that it’s the small things in life that give us true happiness per pound this summer.
  • Smaller, cheaper things – like a chocolate bar or a £1 charity donation – bring people the greatest joy per pound rather than large, expensive items
  • The Ice Cream Index is based on groundbreaking methodology that explored which of our summertime spends delivers the most happiness per pound

LONDON, 19th July 2019: Chocolate and donating to charity give British people the most happiness per £1 during the summer months. Buying a bar of chocolate makes us happiest relative to price, according to research by Zopa, the FeelGood MoneyTM company – while giving money to charity came in a close second.

Zopa, the FeelGood MoneyTM company and soon to be bank, commissioned behavioural analyst Darius Lucas to carry out ground breaking research to help people make the most of their money over the summer months. The unique research asked Britons to consider 100 summertime spends and give them a happiness rating out of 1,000. Items ranged from the simple – a humble ice cream, to the extravagant – a £1,000 weekend in New York.

The scores were then weighted alongside the cost of the items to reveal summer’s top list of feel good purchases in the ‘Ice Cream Index’. The score was also influenced by how long it took people to decide; hovering over an item for a longer time led to a lower score.

The results show that it’s the little things in life that give us the biggest feel good factor, with items such as ‘a book’, ‘a home-cooked family meal’ and ‘cocktails at happy hour’ scoring higher than ‘a high-tech drone’ and ‘a holiday in New York’.

Clare Gambardella, Chief Customer Officer at Zopa, said: “This just goes to show you don’t need lots of money to feel good this summer – it’s how you spend it that matters. Zopa offers customers the chance to feel good about their financial lives and so we commissioned the Ice Cream Index to discover which items really make people happy when the sun shines, whatever their budget. It links two subjects at the heart of Zopa – money and happiness!

“In fact, as the research shows, social connection is one of the top things that cheer us up during the hotter months. Whether it’s going to the pub with a friend (number 26 on the list) or giving to charity (number 2), connection outweighs material things”.

Summer of experiences

Experiences rather than products give people more happiness for the same amount of money, with holidays beating expensive tech items.

People also report higher happiness levels from items they use on a regular basis than from something they only use once, or less frequently but which costs the same. For example, a Netflix subscription makes us happier than a one-off rejuvenation treatment, and we prefer an unlimited phone contract to a music festival.

“This is consistent with ‘reinforcement theory’”, says Darius Lucas. “Longer-lasting items provide more reinforcement opportunities, or events that associate that item with positive emotional reactions. So people learn to expect happiness when they think of these items.”

Furthermore, items directly associated with physical pleasure give more happiness than items that aren’t – for example, we favour a comfy sofa or relaxing Jacuzzi over a designer watch or high-tech drone. “This is an example of the availability ‘bias’ or ‘heuristic’,” says Lucas, “where we have a mental shortcut to something because we’ve already experienced it.”

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