How “Surprise and Delight” amplifies loyalty marketing strategies

Surprise & Delight (S&D) is a hot topic for marketers. The influx of large-scale S&D videos going viral is motivating more brands to consider their own S&D strategies. If you're among them, it's important you remember that S&D is more than just a blanket marketing strategy of random gifts and offers. Generational gaps and segmenting your S&D are among the key considerations.  

Implementing a S&D strategy that sincerely appreciates key customers is a great way to breathe new life into loyalty marketing initiatives while creating powerful connections on an emotional level.  A recent study conducted by LoyaltyOne in November 2015 found that 94% of Canadians felt more positive about the company after receiving an S&D offer and 62% agreed that companies don't understand just how meaningful gestures like surprises gifts and special recognition are to them. Not only do consumers remember (and value) a surprise offer or reward, many in turn reward you by acting as brand ambassadors among their network or better still, with more business. Of those surveyed in the same study, one in three (34%) who experienced a recent S&D said the experience led them to give the company more business.

Tapping into your loyalty data is key to helping you ensure you can maximize the full benefits S&D has to offer. At the same time, it’s important to remember that while S&D can help augment the customer experience creating "wow" moments, it does not replace loyalty programs. Rather, the goal of S&D is to tailor unique privileges incentives and offers that make the customer feel special and appreciated, ultimately deepening their loyalty and affinity for your brand ¾ ideally over others. 

With the dramatic increase in retail competition over the past decade, including in the number of discount and points aggregator sites, it is now more important than ever for businesses, regardless of scale, to create meaningful relationships with customers.  This is particularly true for repeat and high-volume customers. In the quest to build customer loyalty and sustain long-term customers and more profitable relationships, using S&D, in combination with a loyalty program, can have some ‘pleasantly surprising’ material benefits.

How to make Surprise & Delight really count
So what types of S&D do consumers really want? This same study revealed the top S&D rewards customers find most appealing: special privileges for being a longtime customer, surprise discounts for reaching a spending threshold during a particular month; and free samples or products that align with their purchasing behavior.

Understanding what different generations seek in the form of S&D offers and engaging these particular segment groups differently is vital. For instance, millennials (18-34 years) say they are more likely to be influenced by status and non-monetary based rewards than any other generational cohort. They engage with loyalty programs quite differently versus the older generations (generation Y and boomers). They also demand more personalized S&D offers. 

With their influence both monetary and socially, many brands are using S&D to engage and attract the younger demographics and strengthen loyalty. Of note, 70% of consumers aged 18-24 years of age from the study cohort were able to recall an instance in which they were recently surprised and delighted by a company. However, the data found many brand owners appear to be missing out on another important demographic—Boomers (65+); with only 37% recalling a recent S&D offer from a company.
Ultimately, when it comes to S&D, there isn’t a one size fits all approach. The quality of your data and your ability to turn it into an experience, while taking into account generational cohorts, is what will keep your customers coming back while singing your praises.

Sources:

  • Surprise & Delight Blog by Jeff
  • Colloquy conducted an online North American survey of 1,024 Canadian and 1,018 American respondents in August 2015. Survey respondents were at least 18 years of age and active members of a loyalty program (an active member is defined as one who earns or redeems at least once a year).
  • LoyaltyOne conducted an online survey of 1,188 Canadian respondents in November 2015. Survey respondents were at least 18 years of age.
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