Valentine’s Day from a UK Consumer Culture Perspective


LOVE this article posted on the Northstar website this week about tips for brands who want to leverage the (evolving) relevance of valentines day.  Has a cheeky UK touch I am sure the VDay haters will love.  🙂  You can link to this as well as more great content here:

Valentine’s Day Love & Consumerism: A Match Made in Brand Heaven

13 February 2013

Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays around the globe, making it an attractive proposition for both brands and marketers alike. Not only is it a great opportunity for brands to increase sales, but also to enhance brand image and engage with consumers.

Why is Valentine’s Day such big business for brands? 

Valentine’s Day spending has grown year-on-year in the US; in fact last year Americans spent a whopping $17.6 billion for this one day.

On average, men spend roughly twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day (spending $169 in comparison to $86) and young adults ages 25-34 years, prove to be the biggest spenders of all. In comparison, consumers in the UK spend an average of £119 per person.

But spending on Valentine’s Day gifts is not limited to spouses or significant others only. Indeed, it’s increasingly common to buy such gifts for family, friends, children’s classmates and teachers, co-workers, and even for pets!

So who is Valentine’s Day big business for and what does it mean for brands?

Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Brands

Well, if your brand’s products or services are inherently associated with Valentine’s Day, for example, Pandora (jewellery), La Senza (lingerie) or Lindt (chocolates), than you’re already top-of-mind for consumers. On the other hand, less relevant brands need to be creative / do the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’ in order to capitalise on such a lucrative occasion.

To get your creative juices (aka Brand Mojo) flowing, here are some examples of creative Valentine’s Day initiatives from the less traditional product categories last year:

Innocent Smoothies:

Innocent Smoothies is not a brand immediately associated with Valentine’s Day, but last year they provided consumers the opportunity to design their own personalised message dubbed a “love label” that once designed, would be wrapped around an Innocent bottle and given to the person they love. For an added level of engagement, these “love labels” could then be shared on social media sites.

Heineken’s Serenade App:

Beer is not the most romantic product category out there; however Heineken launched a Facebook app called “Serenade” as part of their digital marketing strategy while using the seo services toronto – here you can find out more about it. The app allowed users to create a love song for their special someone by answering a few questions, with upwards of 600 serenades possible.

O2 Messenger Cupids:

O2 turned up the heat last year as well by offering consumers the chance to have their Valentine’s message read out on YouTube by a set of non-identical twins. The user simply had to tweet their message using the hashtag #O2cupid and the recipient of the message was then notified via Twitter when the message had been posted on YouTube.

Whilst these brands love Valentine’s Day, it is not an event for everyone. This doesn’t mean to say that there are not product offerings available specifically for romantic naysayers.

Love vs. Loathe

Valentine’s Day is a bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it. For many people (couples in particular), it’s all about demonstrating affection, fostering togetherness and of course, the requisite gift-giving.

While for others (singles in particular), Valentine’s Day can prove to be any one, or a combination of depressing, cheesy and/or commercialised “hallmark” scams. In fact, some people even go as far as celebrating Singles Awareness (or Appreciation) Day in protest of Valentine’s Day.

This may well represent good news for the less “romantic” brands. It offers opportunity to either embrace or reject Valentine’s Day. By being empathetic to consumer’s negative sentiment and the anti-Valentine’s Day trend, a niche space has been created for those who loathe, not love, Valentine’s Day.

Breakup service:

If you are feeling the emotional and financial pressure of Valentine’s Day this year, you can do so using In just a few clicks this free service allows you to end your relationship online – all you have to do is select a reason.

Dead flowers:

Since flourishing flowers are the archetypal Valentine’s Day gift, surely dead flowers would make the most appropriate anti-Valentine’s Day replacement? If you’ve been recently dumped or just want to say “I can’t stand you,” let Dirty Rotten Flowers send the object of your anti-love a wilted bouquet of roses.

Less than sweet, sweets:

Heart-shaped sweets bearing messages of romance such as “I love you” and “Be mine” are a Valentine’s Day staple. However, BitterSweets offer a spin on these traditional treats with messages like “Pure Nausea” and “Table for 1,” that will allow you to express your true distain for love this Valentine’s Day.

Tips for Brands and Marketers

Know Your Target Demographic:

Statistics show that young men spend the most on Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones, so be sure to reach out to this group. Social media campaigns on sites such as Facebook allow a brand initiative to target the correct demographic and encourage brand conversation.

Creative Campaigns:

With consumers spending so much cash for Valentine’s Day it comes as no great surprise to see brands suddenly bitten by the love bug – launching highly creative marketing campaigns. Traditional ‘romantic’ brands are already top of mind for consumers, but those brands that aren’t historically associated with Valentine’s Day can benefit equally by thinking about creative ways to engage with consumers.

Anti-Valentine Day:

Join the dark side! Not everyone likes Valentine’s Day and brands have the opportunity to capitalize on negative sentiment through humorous anti-Valentine’s Day campaigns and products/services. Currently, not many large brands have jumped on the bandwagon and this leaves a whitespace area for brands to meet consumer unmet anti-Valentine’s Day needs.


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