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For the past four years, Valentine’s Day spending has hovered around $20 billion nationwide. While the traditional products like jewelry, flowers and dinner dates are still on top, Millennials also spend in a variety of unorthodox ways that include solo dates and self-care, gifts for pets and coworkers, or anti-Valentine’s day gifts, like naming a cockroach after an ex.
Retailers can look to past Valentine’s Day trends to keep ahead of this year’s curve and capitalize on the holiday’s marketing potential. Let’s look at what has been working, and what hasn’t.
Focus on Mobile and Tablet Customers
First, use the right channels. Last year, 36.9 percent of consumers used smartphones to help them buy gifts, and 44.7 percent used tablets. By this point, it should go without saying; to capture sales, you need to be on the channels your customers are.
Push Pets, Events, and Quality Time
Adults under 35 love to love on their pets, and the National Retail Federation reports a quarter of them buying Valentine’s gifts for their fur babies—more than any other age bracket. Pet gifts accounted for about $751 million of last year’s Valentine’s Day spending.
When giving to each other, adults under 35 are still buying experiences over objects. Tickets to concerts, an art class, SCUBA lessons, or a date with Idris Elba are all more likely to score Millennial dollars than a diamond bracelet.
Spending on jewelry is still high (because it’s expensive), but more people are buying flowers or an evening out.
The time investment that goes towards an expensive purchase, especially an object, is seen as more valuable than the object itself. Some people would prefer 5 hours with their partner over an object it takes their partner 5 hours of work to afford. If you do have a product to sell, consider pairing it with a one-of-a-kind experience. Remember, this experience could be as simple as thoughtful delivery or packaging.
Use Hashtags and Live Activations to Drive Brand Awareness
Last year Bumble started a conversation with the #LoveEquals campaign. The hashtag encouraged social media users to write their own definition of love, and they coupled it with an attention-grabbing activation. After repainting a classic London phone booth in their branded yellow, they filled it with a thousand yellow roses and engaged people on the street in conversation about what love equals to them.
The stunt, which was engineered by the agency Hyphen, got positive press attention, and supported their brand as a women-empowering dating app that’s rewriting the conversation around love.
Bumble took the campaign a step further by partnering with Shazam, who also ‘painted’ their app Bumble-yellow. If Shazam couldn’t identify a song, users were redirected to a screen that said “Shazam couldn’t find a match, but we can.”
Engage in a Unique Partnership
Bumble’s not the first to partner up for Valentine’s Day. It’s been a successful strategy for Starbucks, who partnered with Match.com to create the “world’s largest Starbucks date” on February 13th. Match.com found that 3 million of its users describe themselves with coffee-related words, and Starbucks wanted to push the idea of meeting for coffee as a perfect first date. Match.com placed a ‘Meet at Starbucks’ button in their UX, making the location choice an easy one-click process, and Starbucks offered a day of special menus, romantic music and Instagrammable photo props at their tables.
White Castle realized a similar idea, offering dinner reservations at their fast food restaurants. They decorate with red tablecloths and balloons, and the staff provides table service. More than a gimmick, the annual event has grown in popularity over the last 20 years to accommodate 30,000 customers nationwide. White Castle now partners with OpenTable to handle all the reservations.
Valentine’s Day Sales are Growing
Regardless of your level of Valentine’s Day enthusiasm, the holiday will likely capture a growing consumer spend, and retailers won’t want to miss out. Optimizing for mobile and tablet and launching a strong hashtag campaign will drive e-commerce. Spotlight events, unique experiences, and nontraditional gifts while retaining the option for more traditional gifts coupled with one-of-a-kind delivery. Push your campaign to the next level by partnering with an unexpected, non-competitive brand to create a conversation-starting activation.
Bring these element together, and if the stars align, you should see sparks fly.
January 29, 2019 at 01:50PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs