Serendipity: Chance Encounters in the Marketplace Enhance Consumer Satisfaction

Aekyoung Kim, Felipe M. Affonso, Juliano Laran, Kristina M. Durante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite evidence that consumers appreciate freedom of choice, they also enjoy recommendation systems, subscription services, and marketplace encounters that seemingly occur by chance. This article proposes that enjoyment can, in some contexts, be higher than that in contexts involving choice. This occurs as a result of feelings of serendipity that arise when a marketplace encounter is positive, unexpected, and attributed to some degree of chance. A series of studies shows that feelings of serendipity positively influence an array of consumer outcomes, including satisfaction and enjoyment, perceptions of meaningfulness of an experience, likelihood of recommending a company, and likelihood of purchasing additional products from the company. The findings show that strategies based on serendipity are even more effective when consumers perceive that randomness played a role in how an encounter occurred, and not effective when the encounter is negative, the encounter occurs deterministically (i.e., planned by marketers to target consumers), and consumers perceive that they have enough knowledge to make their own choices. Altogether, this research suggests that marketers can influence customer satisfaction by structuring marketplace encounters to appear more serendipitous, as opposed to expected or entirely chosen by the consumer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-157
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


  • choice
  • enjoyment
  • product recommendations
  • satisfaction
  • serendipity
  • subscription services


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