Thursday 6 November 2014

An element of surprise

"A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless." - Charles de Gaulle

Who doesn't love surprises? From Christmas Crackers to Crackerjack boxes, our childhoods are packed with little surprises. There are whole brands, such as Kinder Überraschungsei that are built on the idea of surprise.

I think we are surprised less and less as we grow older, which is a shame. And many brands these days are so intent on the pursuit of consistency and transparency that they forget surprise. The media we look at suggests the possibility of surprise through its sheer quantity, but the reality is different. All those headlines from Buzzfeed, now mimicked by what used to be quality dailies which claim "You Will Be Amazed" are tempting, but I find myself increasingly unamazed. Algorithms aren't terribly good at surprising, either. And reading this fascinating article by Tara Hunt, you'll see how so many YouTube videos use identical tropes (to use the hip word of the moment) /are formulaic (to be truthful.) And here are my thoughts about surprise from a couple of years back.

Trendwatching have picked up on this in their latest Trend Report: "Accustomed to now long-entrenched control, transparency and endless choice, in 2015 millions of consumers will find light relief in pursuing just the opposite."

I'm not sure about "light relief". I think that surprise - delivered through novelty and innovation in product, communication, service, pricing and all the rest of the marketing mix is key to keeping customers and potential customers "excited and breathless." 


Barbara said...

Hi Sue, the last time I was “excited and breathless” was a few weeks ago when I bought a new winter coat. The shop was running a special promotion which I knew nothing about. I ended up saving £ 50, which paid for a very nice lunch. Those are the kind of surprises I enjoy.

Sue Imgrund said...