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How Brands Stand Out on Valentine’s Day

How Brands Stand Out on Valentine’s Day main image

Every year, Valentine’s Day divides opinion. Is it the most romantic day of the year? Do we really need to mark off a day to celebrate the one we love? Is it all a bit of a con?

These are all valid questions for consumers, but businesses can’t afford to be cynical about every romantic’s favorite holiday.

On Valentine’s Day last year, Americans were expected to spend over US$20.7bn – a six percent spike from the year before.

Although fewer people claim to celebrate Valentine’s Day than ever before (51 percent said they planned to celebrate the holiday, down four percent from 2018), the National Retail Federation estimated Americans would spend:

  • $3.9 billion on jewelry
  • $3.5 billion on an evening out
  • $2.1 billion on clothing
  • $1.9 billion on flowers
  • $1.8 billion on candy
  • $1.3 billion on gift cards
  • $933 million on greeting cards

As you can see from the figures, the financial stakes are high for brands, and so organizations spend months developing Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns aimed at the core holiday demographic: couples in love.

But in recent years, brands have tailored their marketing efforts to changing cultural values surrounding the holiday. Of course, the key focus is the concept of love – but the lines have been blurred, and Valentine’s Day (and the marketing surrounding it) doesn’t solely focus on couples anymore.

The fact is, the holiday needed to become more inclusive, and brands have had to jump onboard to keep customers interested.

Growth of Galentine’s Day

Rather than only focus on romantic partners, many people now use the holiday as a chance to demonstrate the love and affection they feel towards their friends instead. This is why Galentine’s Day was born – a time to honor shared love between girls and their closest pals.

Like it or lump it, Galentine’s Day is here to stay. The popular Valentine’s Day alternative of celebrating the love between friends has become so influential that major retail brands have caught onto the hype, using marketing funds to attract this demographic.

Not only are there Galentine’s Day-themed decorations at major department stores, but some retail brands even create their own landing pages and retail categories for Galentine’s Day gifts.

US retail giant Walmart is one of the biggest names to get in on the Galentine’s action, as reported by Forbes, by targeting single women, promoting ‘girlfriend-oriented’ options including brunch get-togethers, spa experiences, and more.

‘Treat Yourself’ pushes brands to be bolder

China’s Singles’ Day is observed on November 11 every year – a day dedicated to celebrating your pride in being single.

Granted, this holiday hasn’t caught on in the US or elsewhere, but the notion of ‘treating yourself’ has been an easy global hook for brands keen to tempt people into a special Valentine’s purchase. By embracing this style of marketing, it gives single consumers the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day for themselves.

One smart ‘treat yourself’ strategy in 2019 was the collaboration between candle company Homesick and dating app Tinder. The companies co-created a ‘Single, Not Sorry’ candle that celebrated singlehood, billing it as the best gift to receive on Singles’ Awareness Day – unofficially observed on February 15.

Brands going all out

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Love

In 2018, the London-based Warner Bros. Studio tour offered adult Harry Potter fans a Valentine’s Day dinner in Hogwarts' Great Hall.

On Feb 9 and 10, guests attending the event received a Love Potion cocktail, magic wand, and access to other key Harry Potter film sets including the Gryffindor common room and Platform 9¾.  

Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Postmates, and Tinder partnered up to surprise select users on Valentine’s Day two years ago.

Levine showed up at unsuspecting peoples’ homes with gifts including everything from beer to private concerts.

Twitter users could have their wildest Valentine’s Day wishes granted if they tweeted Tinder and Postmates using emojis of the gift they wanted to receive using the hashtag #VDayandChill 

Cupid calling

1-800-Flowers has launched an Alexa Skill allowing users to order flowers with their voice. The skill – integrated with Amazon Pay – responds to focused dialogue like “Alexa, ask -1800-Flowers to send my husband roses.”

The brand utilizes AI integration for its Valentine’s Day marketing.

Five tips to make your brand stand out on Valentine’s Day

  • Provide a special (limited time) promotion
  • Utilize Valentine’s Day hashtags on social media: obviously #ValentinesDay is the most common, but trending hashtags such as #GalentinesDay or #BeMine attract plenty of attention too.
  • Spread the Love: if your brand is unable to offer a promotion, you can offer customers special tips. For example, if you’re a restaurant you can share a recipe for a romantic Valentine’s date night meal.
  • Host a social media contest or giveaway: social media contests and giveaways are a fantastic way to engage with existing and new customers alike. You could ask customers for their best love story, ideal date night (anything really!), and promote it through your brand’s social media channels. You can gift the winner with anything love inspired – have some fun with it!
  • Find a holiday angle for your product
Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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