It’s 2019, and for consumers, the Apollonian appeal of “points-for-rewards” is beginning to lose ground to the Dionysian lure of “surprise and delight.” The former model has a communicable value proposition, but the latter fosters emotional connections. In a world with thousands of loyalty programs, those warm, fuzzy experiences are what really cuts through.
 
As HelloWorld’s 2019 Loyalty Barometer Report suggests, people appreciate it when brands send a gift their way, just for being a customer. Such gestures are a differentiator, and fortunately, brands with traditional points-for-rewards programs don’t need to shut down their current initiatives to offer them. They can be purely supplemental.
 
Let’s take a look at some best practices for surprising and delighting consumers.
 

  1. Use your data. As much as possible.
 
When you get your spouse a surprise gift, you don’t select it randomly. You pick something that suits your spouse’s interests, and you do so in a thoughtful manner. The same goes for consumers; it’s a surprise for them, but a calculated act for you.
 
For instance, if your brand is a clothing retailer, you wouldn’t give a customer who only buys affordable women’s jeans a surprise discount on a sundress. That makes it look like you don’t know your customer, and instead of establishing an emotional connection, you’ve created a feeling of disconnect.  
 
  1. Surprise consumers with an experience.
 
You know, give ‘em something they’re going to want to share on social. If you’re an automotive brand, and a customer is purchasing her third vehicle from you, invite her to tour the manufacturing plant. A surprise like that costs your brand little, but the exclusivity is of tremendous value to the loyal consumer.
 
  1. Offer surprises with regularity.
 
This one’s not necessary and may not be suited to every brand. But consider what T-Mobile has done with T-Mobile Tuesdays. One day each week, the brand’s customers are excited to see what gifts the brand has for them. They may or may not be something that excites a given consumer, but the engagement is strong, and it’s a great way to show customers that their business is appreciated.
 
  1. Partner up to great effect.
 
The surprises don’t have to be your brand’s product. If you’re running a hotel, you can surprise with coupons to a nearby restaurant you’ve partnered with. Consumers will still feel the emotional connection with your brand (“hey, the clerk gave me these coupons just for checking in!”), but using another brand’s product can really help with the “surprise” aspect.
 

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