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surprise and delight

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Surprise and delight is a marketing approach that seeks to attract and nurture customers by enhancing interactions with them and offering them unexpected rewards. The approach is designed to promote customer loyalty and engagement and reduce churn, increasing profitability as a result.

Surprise and delight campaigns often involve rewards, such as coupons for significant amounts, free gift certificates or service or product upgrades. Many companies are experimenting with location-based services to reach consumers on mobile devices and offer them rewards or unique experiences when they are near a particular physical location. A customer close to a restaurant, for example, might receive an offer for a free drink or appetizer.

Sometimes delight is the major factor in a campaign, as in when an airline passenger gets a free seat upgrade. Other times, a surprising event can be equally effective. In 2015, for example, when The Lego Movie was up for an Oscar for best song at the Academy Awards, company representatives distributed Lego Oscar statuettes among the crowd of celebrities. According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, Lego’s stunt got the company close to 47,000 social mentions on Twitter, accounting for 44 percent of the real-time discussion on the platform and amounting to approximately $7.5 million worth of free advertising.

Surprise and delight initiatives can also foster brand awareness by doing things that customers want to tell friends and social media connections about. Another important element of the approach is personalization, making the customer feel valued. Customer segmentation is also effective, so that particular types of rewards target the most appropriate customer demographics, who will appreciate them the most.

One often-overlooked element of nurturing customers is applying the same approach to internal customers: the company's employees. If employees interact with customers, surprising and delighting them is likely to make them enthusiastic brand advocates.

This was last updated in October 2017

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