Love Me or Love Me Not – Valentine’s Day Meets Retail

Posted by Anna Keagy on February 12, 2016


While known as a holiday centered on romantic love, Valentine’s Day has evolved into more than that. For many people, it’s about friendship and family. This year, look for consumer marketing and retail trends to reflect this nuanced perspective on Valentine’s Day.

Fifty-six percent of millennials say they celebrate Valentine’s Day, but millennials tend to approach the holiday in a more tongue-in-cheek way, with an emphasis on friendship. Meme inspired cards and messages (such as “You meme a lot to me” or “You’re proof that I have a heart”) exemplify the less serious approach of millennials to the holiday.

Gift Giving and Spending

Buying gifts for a significant other is still popular, of course. According to a 2016 survey by National Retail Foundation (NRF), 90.8 percent of adults celebrating Valentine’s Day will buy something for their spouse/significant other. But gifts of a non-romantic nature will be big too, with 55.9 percent buying for other family members, 20.7 percent for friends, and 19.5 percent for children’s classmates/teachers. Consumers will even spend $681 million to buy their pets something special this holiday.

Total estimated spending for Valentine’s Day in 2016 is a whopping $19.7 billion, exceeding last year’s $18.9 billion. The 54.8 percent of consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend an average of $146.84. Men will spend more than women on average ($196.39 vs. $99.87), and 25- to- 34-year-olds will spend more on Valentine’s Day than any other age group ($233.39).


Non-Traditional Gifts

While candy, greeting cards and flowers remain Valentine’s Day staples, NRF also found that 24 percent plan to give a gift of experience such as tickets to a concert, a spa service or an art lesson, and 38.8 percent said they would love to receive a gift of experience.

Kantar Media predicts that this year, Valentine’s gifting will extend to broader, cross-category products such as tech items (i.e., Fitbit) and kitchen supplies.


According to NRF, department stores and discount stores will be the most popular places to shop for Valentine’s Day, and 27.9 percent plan to shop online.

Retailers such as Amazon, Target and Macy’s are promoting curated gift guides to help drive customers to purchase. Many businesses are offering Valentine’s incentives such as sales or free shipping.

Role of Technology

This year, 30.5 percent of smartphone owners will use their smartphones to research and compare products and prices to make Valentine’s Day purchase decisions. Not surprisingly, mobile will be even more important for millennials, with 53.9 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 50.9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds researching and comparing prices on their smartphones.

Social media will be buzzing this holiday, as well. Last year, an Influence Media survey found that 64 percent of the women surveyed would post Valentine’s Day-related content on social media. It can be expected that social will continue to be popular again this Valentine’s Day.

Look for brands to take advantage of social media by creating shareable content, like what Taco Bell did last year through its interactive Valentine’s Day campaign on Snapchat. Or browse Pinterest to see the many Valentine’s Day themed boards: a perfect opportunity for brands to utilize Pinterest’s new “buy” button as part of their marketing strategy.

Varied Celebrations

Whether consumers are buying for significant others, family, friends or even pets, this Valentine’s Day looks to be a big one in the world of retail.

What about you? Do you see Valentine’s Day more as a romantic holiday or as a time to celebrate with friends and family? How does this affect what you plan to buy or do this Valentine’s Day?

Anna Keagy is an Insights Analyst at Mitchell. For more trendspotting and consumer insights from Anna, click here.

Topics: Retail, trends