Valentine’s Day is here, and 50% of consumers in the UK plan to spend on their significant others, from partners to parents, friends, and even pets. It’s a holiday that transcends generations and is celebrated by equal numbers of millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. Which also means it is a huge opportunity for retail brands, though a very saturated, competitive time to effectively catch the attention of consumers. So how should retail brands go about reaching these loved up consumers?
Understanding valentine’s day consumers
Many factors are taken into consideration when spending money on Valentine’s Day. For instance, there is a gender, location and age divide in the amount of money that people look to spend. In the UK, men spend an average of £40, while women spend just £20. It’s still a significant market, an estimated £500m ($650m) was spent on Valentine’s Day in 2018, and this is set to increase again this year.
Marketers should also keep in mind that Valentine’s Day is not just about purchasing traditional confectionery or flowers. In fact, according to a report by Statista, there seems to be a move towards buying ‘experiences’ like dining out, or a romantic getaway, while flowers, lingerie, and jewellery are becoming less popular.
Plus, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for people in relationships anymore. Many singles, family members, and friends use Valentine’s Day as a gifting opportunity for their loved ones, themselves or for their pets. For instance, 4.7% plan to purchase their children a present, and 4.5% will purchase for their dog. Within that group, Millennials are most likely to purchase a gift for their pet (8.7%) and are also twice as likely to treat themselves to a gift. The variety of gifts, and broad range of groups who are purchasing gifts, gives brands plenty of opportunities to communicate with specific audiences ahead of this holiday.
We also know consumers do not plan as far ahead when comparing Valentine’s Day to other gifting holidays like Christmas or birthdays. According to Barclays, the younger generation are slightly better at planning ahead, with 40% of people under the age of 24 giving themselves two weeks to find the perfect gift. Meanwhile 49% of people aged 55 and over leave just seven days.
Therefore it would be better for marketers to focus their spend in the weeks immediately before Valentine’s Day. This purchasing cycle differs massively from the purchase journey of other products like Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), where the decision-making process is quick, or the travel sector where it can take months before a booking is made.
In addition to this, belated Valentine’s Day celebrations are becoming more popular, with 7.9m (19%) of British consumers trying to get better value. This is particularly popular with millennials, and over one in four admit to delaying to save money. It’s a dramatic difference to baby boomers, where only 11% celebrated after the 14th.
Although the process of making a purchase for Valentine’s Day may be reasonably quick, consumers are still likely to switch devices a handful of times before completing a purchase. They may research options on multiple channels, possibly looking on social media and searching on the web for inspiration before making the final decision. Which makes it essential for marketers to understand audiences’ cross-device journeys, so they are allocating their marketing dollars effectively for the holiday.
How to make your brand win in the competition for love
Now that we understand who the Valentine’s Day consumer might be, and the timeframe they generally take to purchase gifts, marketers can consider how to stand out from other brands in the marketplace competing to reach consumers.
Competition for consumers’ attention during the lead-up to Valentine’s Day can be fierce. Lots of businesses offer similar products and services, including hotels, restaurant bookings, and gift ideas, that will all be popular this time of year. So these brands need to work hard to ensure they stand out above their competitors.
This can be achieved by focusing on understanding consumer trends and purchasing behaviors, including the consumer journey across platforms and devices. For instance, consumers will be using different channels to declare their love in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp being the most popular platforms.
In addition, according to the National Retail Federation, mobile phones are vital for purchasing and booking around Valentine’s Day, with 25% using their device to buy a present, 17.8% booking a meal, and 17.2% booking a short romantic break.
Plus, we know that purchases tend to take place in the last few days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
All of this knowledge, along with specific cross-device analysis, can help marketers maximize their marketing budgets by reaching consumers at the right time, in the right place, and with the right promotion, cross-sell or upsell messaging when they are most likely to purchase.
By combining knowledge around all the factors that drive consumers’ decision-making processes – including time, price, convenience or location – marketers can ensure their messages are reaching customers when they are most likely to convert, and therefore making the most out of their marketing budgets.