While surprise has long been posited as an integral element of the “perfect gift” (Belk 1996), scholars have only recently started to recognize the importance of this elusive emotion. Owing to its transient nature, the construct of surprise has often posed challenges in terms of theoretical conceptualization and empirical operationalization. However, the past few decades have seen a gradual increase in scholarly work on various dimensions of surprise and its links to customer delight, a key variable for marketing practitioners. A particular context where the value of surprise assumes an even greater importance is that of romantic gift-giving. Given the importance of a romantic gift in signaling the development of a relationship and in symbolizing the shared self of two people in love, the risks and rewards of selecting the perfect gift are proportionally higher in such a context. So, why not infuse the gift with added meaning by making it a wonderful surprise? Consequently, this chapter takes the first step in conceptualizing a framework for including an element of surprise in the context of romantic gift-giving. It starts out by providing an overview of research on the emotion of surprise itself. It then notes the link between surprise and delight that has been explored in different consumption and market contexts. The discussion then moves to a more focused exploration of the role of surprise in romantic gift-giving by looking at a surprise gift’s particular suitability to the four dimensions of agapic romantic love described by Belk and Coon (1993). Finally, after delineating bad surprises from good surprises, the authors present a conceptual framework of surprise romantic gifts that is anchored on the concept of the shared self (Aron, Aron, and Smollan 1992). The chapter concludes by reiterating the criticality of surprise to romantic gift-giving.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Social Sciences(all)