Customer experience

The one thing consumers value more than price? The art of surprise and delight

- February 28, 2022 3 MIN READ
Delighted woman looking into shopping bags with surprise

There are so many considerations for business owners when it comes to consumer satisfaction, from pricing to brand image to customer service. But the one thing customers value even more than price is the ability for a business to surprise and delight us, writes entrepreneur and global marketing expert, Katrina McCarter.

Last year I was invited to the opening of FRANKIE4 Footwear’s first standalone Melbourne store. I said yes – it felt like fun.

It was, but more than that, the event was my favourite recent example of one of the best ways to market with no money: providing surprise and delight.

The launch came in the lead up to Mother’s Day and to celebrate that and the move into the Melbourne market, every guest was gifted flowers and invited to choose a pair of shoes (green sparkly boots for me).

It was a genius PR move, letting mums loose in a shoe store. We felt special, exhilarated, treasured.

The art of surprise and delight

In this world there are few surprises. We find out the sex of babies, tell our partners what to get for our birthdays, plan our own holidays. So giving a customer or client a surprise is a great way to let them know how important and special they are.

In my Marketing to Mums research, women always tell me that it’s the little personalised touches that lead them to choose one product or service over another.

It’s definitely not always a price game. People value more than that.

Amy Henry, president of FlashLight Insights in Philadelphia, agrees. She told me what separates surprise and delight from a gimmick is that essential insight that says, ‘I’ve anticipated what you want because I’m really paying attention.’

It tells a customer that a business sees their relationship as more than just transactional. It says the business doesn’t take you for granted and believes you are a person deserving of joy.

Happy, surprised woman opening box

How to surprise and delight your customers

ALDI Australia is expert at giving customers surprise and delight: ski gear one week, copper frypans and caravan covers the next. Twice each week, the middle aisle brings a new discovery opportunity to make the grocery shopping experience less boring. Cue queues outside stores on ‘special buys’ days.

One of my clients is a multi-million dollar gourmet meal kit delivery business. Every delivery is a surprise in what the family will eat that week – everyone crowds around to see what’s in the box and recipe book. Great idea.

Late in 2021, I was surprised and delighted when a client sent me a copy of Women and Leadership by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. It had a personalised note and was signed by former PM Gillard. I felt special – marketing mission accomplished.

Tina Tower is the founder of the Begin Bright tutoring franchise business. She asks each parent their favourite magazine title, then buys it so the parent can have a guilty pleasure during tutoring time. Doesn’t cost much, but makes a lasting impression.

One of my clients, a swim school, installed a coffee shop during lockdown and surprised their 1,800 families on re-opening. The customers loved the business’ thoughtfulness, so they are loyal and refer new families constantly. Huge tick.

The message?

Be surprising. Delight people. It’s a fabulous way to market with no money and build loyalty and fast rapport.


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