As comforting as routines can be, many individuals thrive on little unexpected moments. When people experience a positive moment that comes out of nowhere, the result is likely to build a strong connection or relationship, whether it’s a compliment on the street, winning a prize in a contest or something else.
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), surprise and delight is among the most effective marketing tools because it plays to some very basic truths about human nature. For one, the source asserted that surprise is addictive, as shown in a study by scientists at Emory University and Baylor University. Researchers tested subjects to see how they would react in response to a sequence of pleasurable stimuli in the form of fruit juice and water. Subjects received squirts of each liquid, with some subjected to a predictable pattern and others experiencing one that was random. When scientists looked at MRIs of the tested individuals’ brains, those who got juice at unpredictable moments responded stronger than those who knew when it was coming. HBR noted that Dr. Read Montague, a professor of neuroscience at Baylor, said that results show people are “designed to crave the unexpected.”
Additionally, HBR asserted that surprise is a powerful tool for driving desired behavior, as it introduces people to new stimuli. This in turn encourages learning, which can result in customers being more receptive to buying new products, upgrading services and more. The source advised that instead of shaping marketing campaigns around what needs to be said to convince customers to take a certain action, it may be more effective to think in terms of what these customers would see as predictable and then do something that will flip those expectations on their heads.
The news provider also noted that surprise and delight can create more passionate relationships. Citing an experiment conducted among middle-aged married couples, HBR said that when people enjoy activities they see as exciting or out of the ordinary, people develop stronger bonds with one another. In the same sense, companies can keep the spark in their client relationships alive by focusing on customer retention through thrilling tactics.