Loyalty Psychology: Light up your customer’s brain like a Christmas tree


There is plenty of evidence to suggest surprise & delight campaigns as part of a loyalty program help forge a strong emotional connection between brands and consumers. Now we can even understand what is taking place inside the brain.

Scientists at Emory University, Atlanta found evidence that the emotional connection can be forged by the surprise & delight event powerfully stimulating the brain’s ‘pleasure centre’ or ‘reward circuit’ (the nucleus accumbens), which releases dopamine into the blood stream (dopamine = I feel good).

The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity in response to pleasurable stimuli, and found the pleasure centre responded much more strongly when the event was unanticipated.

Subjects in the experiment underwent MRI scans while having fruit juice or water squirted into their mouths through a tube either in a predictable or unpredictable pattern. The subjects were then asked which drink they preferred.

The results revealed that the pleasure centre was most strongly activated when the squirts were unpredictable, even with water.

This presents a strong case for including surprise & delight elements in a loyalty program, as an unexpected delight can light-up your customer’s brain like a Christmas tree, helping to forge a strong connection between them and your brand.

Philip Shelper is a specialist loyalty consultant based in Sydney, Australia who obsesses about everything to do with loyalty and rewards. His company Loyalty & Reward Co are a leading loyalty consulting firm.

Let’s connect! https://au.linkedin.com/in/philipshelper