Relaxing on the couch this Sunday afternoon, I open Facebook to share some holidays pictures and the first thing I notice in my news feed wall is that three friends have shared the same video with comments like “best laugh ever”. I’m intrigued and decide to watch. In no time I’m laughing loud too, and by the end,  I’m in laughing tears! Immediately after, I start seeing this video from a Happiness & CEXP perspective!

Now, if you haven’t watched the video yet, do yourself a favor, give yourself the gift of joy and watch it now… before I spoil it all for you! 🙂

The Happiest Chewbacca Mom video

Candace laugh has a real ripple effect. You can’t watch and not laugh. I let my husband watch it too and I laughed again at seeing him laughing and in tears by the end of it.

“Thank you, Candace, for sharing your joy with the “internet webs” and starting such a ripple effect of joy across the world.”

After enjoying this great laugh, the CEXP professional inside me kicked in and  I decided to check Candace’s page and find out more about the story, the impact it is having and if/how the retailer Kohl’s reacted to it. And because this story so well represents much of what I believe in and of the world I wish to live in (as described during our recent TedxTorvergataU talk), I decided it deserves a full blog post. So here is what I found out and the learnings I see in this amazing story.

Facts about the Happiest Chewbacca Mom story.

  • Candace Payne, a 37-year-old woman from Texas, shot & posted a video using Facebook Live feature on Thursday 19 May 2 PM while sitting in KOHL’S car parking. She wanted to share with her friends the experience of unpacking a birthday gift she just made to herself before her kids would “confiscate” the toy.
  • Within 7 hours, by Thursday 19 evening, the video had already 1 million views. At the time of writing this post (Sunday 23), about 60 hours later, the video has already 125 M views just on FB & millions of reshares
  • On Friday 20 KOHL’s surprises Candace’s and her family by thanking her for a laugh by giving her three more masks, 2.500$ of gifts to use in KOHL’S and 10.000 rewards points for her loyalty.
  • On that very same day, everyone was running into KOHL’S stores to buy Chewbacca’s mask & they quickly run out of stock in stores and also on KOHL’S Twitter account is overwhelmed with requests for the mask.
  • By Sunday, the mask is sold out at many other retailers, including Walmart and Toys R Us, and seems to be driving sales for other related Star Wars items too: “We have received an overwhelming amount of interest in the Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens Chewbacca Electronic Mask by Hasbro since Candace posted her funny and lighthearted video,” a spokeswoman for ToysRUs told CNBC.” Some on Amazon are selling the mask, which retails at between $20 and $30, for as much as $255.
  • The video of KOHL’S surprise gift to Candace has already 22 M views at the moment of writing this post. The brand’s response was planned in partnership with its social agency, Huge. If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s also worth a watch.

The video of KOHL’S surprise gift to Candace

This story is still unfolding,  and more will most likely follow in next days, but in the meantime,

I already see some clear learnings from this story.

The learnings from a CEXP & Happiness Driven Growth point of view.

  1. “It’s the simple joys in life…” Candace’s description of her video is spot on. Her authentic laugh & joy is why her video is so engaging to watch. Candace is a real person, a human being which in 4 minutes, while sitting in the car park of KOHL’S, totally takes us into her life. As a mother I could immediately relate to her experience at many levels: finally taking a moment to buy myself a birthday gift, letting this gift be a toy which usually would be for kids, knowing that the kids will take it over (I continuously get even my office items confiscated by my kids) and that she can eventually take it back to her room as soon as they put it in one of their toy boxes. I also have a toy which I bought for my baby 5 years ago just because I loved how it was saying “wriccapukketio” and I’m still keeping it because it makes me laugh every time I play it!
    • >> Candace is one of us, she is authentic, she is brave in her sharing, she is looking at the camera talking to her friends, people who love her and she loves back. We trust her and feel a connection with her. Her laugh has an immediate “happiness ripple effect” for anyone watching. It’s contagious! For the 4 minutes of this video, we can all relate to Candace, and we all feel to be her friends: that is what makes this video so special to re-share
  2. Facebook Live is a feature that is only three months old, yet is already completely changing our way of communicating and engaging with our friends and acquaintance, and even with total strangers, increasing exponentially possibilities of “butterfly effect“.
    • >> The quote “When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world” never seemed more truthful.
  3. Candace had initially gone into KOHL’S to make “a couple of returns”, clothes that didn’t fit her because too big.
    • >> While this is all Candace’s mentions about it, I assume that these returns were enough of an easy, fast and pleasant experience, which made her have the time, energy and will to stay longer in KOHL’s and buy herself a gift!
  4. This video is Awesome and even more awesome, especially for me as CEX Professional and Happiness Driven Growth Evangelist, is what the retailer KOHL’S did afterward. They very quickly and promptly reacted, taking the chance to deliver Candace a WOW customer experience that made her entire family happy. Candace had given the Internet the best laugh of the year, and they wanted to do something in return.
    • >> This is real Customer Engagement, this is making your customers Happy, this is making a little difference in someone’s life! It’s proactive, it’s acknowledging of the difference this customer is making to KOHL’S, and it truly makes someone’s day.
  5. Just a few days before, KOHL’S had announced declining sales and profit, attributing that to bad advertising choices. They also had announced to move away from digital marketing and invest more again in printing advertisement instead. The video of KOHL’S gifts to Candace has gone viral too with 22,5 M views & people are Tweeting thank you message to KOHL’S for “giving back” to the woman who contributed to everyone’s happiness with her laugh! This is an amazing and unexpected turn of events.
    • >> This is the best new form of advertising! Advertising that uses (a small) budget to give tangible value to its customers, contributing to someone’s happiness. Traditional TV commercial add no real value to anyone’s life, at maximum they can make us smile if they are really good.
  6. This video had an immediate impact on sales! Everyone wanted to FEEL the same joy & happiness Candace feels in her video, even if we don’t like Star Wars.

    Because we all felt like being Candace’s friends (see learning 2) we trusted her recommendations both for the item and for the retailer. Not only KOHL’S shelves quickly ran out of Chewbacca’s mask (and I would be curious to learn about the cross-sales effects on other items people bought once in the shop), but even Amazon sales skyrocket by more than 1,300,000%

    • >> Since we are all pursuing happiness and all we want is happiness, happiness does drive sales and has a real impact on companies sales and profits, hence on their growth. We buy products or experiences not because of what they do, but because of how they make us FEEL and we want to feel HAPPY.  We trust our friends’ recommendations and, often, emulate their purchases or experiences.
  7. KOHL’S ran out of stock in all of their stores, online including warehouses. They are doing a great job at answering every Tweet request on this, but unfortunately, they don’t have updates on when the mask will be restocked. This reminded me of Walmart 1 million American flag sales in the days following 9/11, an example which I described back in 2002 in my master thesis on CEXP: Walmart was able to do so thanks to its real-time monitoring of the demand, thanks to an automated system of re-ordering
    Walmart Chewbacca Screenshot 2016-05-22 19.57.13

    Screenshot made on 2016-05-22 at 19.57.13

    as soon as stock was below a critical level and thanks to its partnership relationships with the suppliers and shipping companies involved. This time I was quite surprised to see that even Walmart seems to have run out of stock, missing out on this amazing sales opportunity and leaving plenty of loyal customers disappointed and forced to keep looking elsewhere. I’m curious to see which retailer will step up in the upcoming days, before this impulsive desire to get a Chewbacca electronic mask fades off.

    • >> When companies’ systems are not good enough to identify demand picks and restock quickly, we not only lose out on potential sales but we also upset customers and create a chance for them to go searching and buying elsewhere. Inventory management & supply chain are a key element of delivering an amazing CEXP and of enabling sales and resulting business growth.
  8. This entire “Happiest Chewbacca Mom” story:
    • shows how everything starts with emotions (a desire to feel an emotion, a simple action that triggers an emotion, the sharing of that emotion that makes so many other people feel the same emotion),
    • proves that the delivery of amazing Customer Experience and consequent exponential business growth require an orchestrated effort from everyone and every function in the company: front-lines employee at every retail store locations, returns policies, marketing, supply chain, digital, social media, suppliers…

Ultimately, for me Candace’s story is a complete example of what I talked about in my TedxTorvergataU talk: it confirms how much impact companies-customers interactions do have on our mutual happiness and business growth. We can and we should have an #HappinessDrivenGrowth filling the world of as much #HappinessRippleEffect as possible.

What about you?

What was your reaction watching Candace Payne’s video? Do you agree with our conclusions? Any other learning you would like to add? Don’t be shy, join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

Want to find out more about my take on Customer Experience and why Happiness matters? Download a free copy of my e-book Why, What and How of Happiness Driven Growth”


N.B. The facts and numbers reported in this post are the ones available on Sunday 22 May at 6 PM CET. While we tried to verify everything we wrote, there may be some inaccuracies. If you notice anything that is inaccurate or missing, please let us know. We will be happy to correct ASAP.

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