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The Valentine Economy

Globally with some notable exceptions everybody loves Valentine’s Day. But, why is it such an important holiday and how have some atypical brands chosen to spread the love?

Valentine’s Day, for some the most romantic day of the year, is celebrated by both couples and singletons all over the world. Each culture and couple celebrates in their own unique way, but usually it involves some combination of cards, flowers, gifts, dinner and messages.

Nearly everybody loves Valentine’s Day. It’s an important day both socially and economically. It’s an opportunity to show appreciation of your loved ones and has been celebrated for centuries.

According to a survey of 13,000 UK adults by chillisauce, a stag and hen event company, both women and men cite the raison d’être of Valentine’s Day as showing your loved one how much you care. This has remained constant despite significant social change. If all this romance has you shaking your head, then the second most mentioned reason for men was ‘to get laid’ and for women was ‘to treat yourself’! Who says romance is dead?

Economies love it.  The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that US consumers will spend $18.2 billion on their Valentines this year, a drop from the 2016 record level of $19.7 billion. While UK consumers, according to PWC, will spend £458.7 million.

The NRF are expecting US consumers to spend on average $136.57, a drop of just over $10 versus 2016 ($146.84). However, what they’re buying is costing them 8% more, according to Houston Asset Management’s Cost of Loving Index.

If you can put a price on love, then the British are the most miserly in Europe. A survey of more than 8,000 people by Groupon found that the average amount of money people are expected to spend on Valentine’s Day varied significantly across Europe: £111.08 in Spain, £107.33 in France, £107.30 in Italy, £83.77 in Germany, and just £49.64 in the UK!

Brands love it. Valentine’s Day to some is one big marketing opportunity. What are people buying? Classic gifts prevail, but gifts of experiences, tracked separately, are planned by nearly a quarter of consumers. This figure is significantly higher amongst 18 to 24 year olds (45%) and 25 to 34 year olds (40%).

In the past, we have seen an abundance of activity aimed at couples. But Valentine’s Day is fast becoming an occasion celebrated by both couples and singletons, with many people buying gifts for friends, colleagues and even their pets rather than just a special someone. The NRF are expecting US consumers to spend $85.21 on their significant other, $26.59 on other family members, $6.56 on their children’s classmates or teachers, $6.51 on friends, $4.27 on colleagues and $4.44 on their pets.

Done right, it represents an interesting and perhaps lucrative opportunity for many brands. For those seeking inspiration, these five examples are all great illustrations of up-to-date ways to spread the love from brands that you wouldn’t traditionally associate with romance!

1) ‘Share your spare’ – NHS Blood and Transplant

5,000 people need a new kidney in the UK. To raise awareness and to encourage people to donate a kidney to a stranger, NHS Blood and Transplant launched this Valentine’s campaign. In a working men’s club on Valentine’s night, the audience of couples on a date are entertained by a humorous song rather than the romantic song expected!

2) ‘A tail of true love’ – Dogs Trust

As part of their Big Scoop campaign, the Dogs Trust UK created this ‘tail of true love’ for Valentine’s Day presenting the love story between one man and his dog. Created as a parody of black and white romantic French films and told from the view point of the dog, it reminds dog owners that loving their pet means loving scooping their poop too!

3) ‘Eternal love’ – Instrumentarium  

Finnish optical chain Instrumentarium created this alternative Valentine’s ad to promote a two-for-one glasses offer. It features an elderly man who comes home from the opticians with new spectacles. His wife appears uninterested until he surprises her with her own brand new pair of glasses. But, the result unfortunately for him demonstrates that love is not necessarily eternal!

4) ‘Valentine’s Adult Meal ‘ – Burger King Israel

Burger King Israel created an ‘adult only’ meal box for Valentine’s Day. Available to over 18 year olds only and after 6pm on Valentine’s Day, the meal box contained two Whoppers, two portions of French fries, two beers… and an ‘adult toy’!

5) ‘Notes—a life story, a love story’ – Take Note

This ad for Canadian stationery store Take Note tells the story of one couple’s life through a series of handwritten notes they leave for each other. You only ever see their hands, the pen they write with, and the notes they leave each other through the flush of first romance, through the dark times and finally through sickness to death. The ad clearly demonstrates the emotive power of the written word — especially when handwritten.

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