Why brands should ‘surprise and delight’ customers (Survey)

Most Canadians say unexpected offers boost their perception of a brand

Rebecca Harris December 08, 2015

“Surprise and delight” campaigns have struck viral gold over the last few years, from WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” video in 2013 to TD Bank’s Automated Thanking Machine, which won the “Best of the Best Award” at this year’s CMA awards.

But, a new survey from LoyaltyOne suggested most companies didn’t realize the value of surprise and delight offers, which can include unexpected gifts or simply creating special moments for consumers. In the survey of 1,188 Canadians, 95% of respondents said surprise and delight experiences boosted their positive perception of the brand. Yet, only 54% were able to recall a recent instance when they were surprised or delighted with a gift or offer from a retailer, airline or hotel.

“There’s an interesting gap there and it speaks to the opportunity that exists for those organizations that have really good information about their customers,” said Bryan Pearson, president and CEO of LoyaltyOne. “Are we doing enough to recognize our best customers? And are we doing enough to take advantage of the information that we have about our customers to really create those special moments?”

While we are seeing more surprise and delight campaigns, “I think more of it is happening in a way that it creates a media story,” added Pearson. “The question is: is it being run on a sustained basis as part of an ongoing strategy for brands? If you can create an offer that is highly relevant based on how that customer interacts with your brand, the likelihood of that driving longer-term loyalty and a higher potential for a shareable experience goes up dramatically.”

The top five surprise and delight rewards customers find most appealing are: receiving special privileges for being a longtime customer (90%); receiving surprise discounts after spending a lot with a retailer during a particular month (86%); receiving free samples or products based on their purchasing habits (86%); receiving a special offer or coupon for their birthday (82%); and receiving a special gift during the holidays (82%).

“Surprise and delights don’t have to always be something that’s monetary in nature,” said Pearson. “Sure, discounts and free products ranked very highly, but if you’re a retailer, why not give your best customers special access to a sale in advance of the general population? Those kinds of things have very low cost to you, but they can create a huge deposit in the value bank with your very best customer.”

Asked how they prefer to receive surprise and delight offers, 81% of respondents said email, with direct mail a distant second at 27%. The survey also found differences between men and women:

•Women feel more appreciated than men by companies when they receive a gift (68% vs. 58% men)

•Women are more likely to share a positive surprise and delight experience with friends and family (63% vs. 49% men)

•Women are twice more likely than men to divulge personal information, such as an email address, when treated to surprise and delight offers