3 Ways Marketers Can Seize Valentine’s Day Gift-Giving Moments

Here are trends and find­ings about Valentine’s Day gift-giv­ing that pro­fes­sion­al mar­keters need to know to be vis­i­ble and per­sua­sive at key moments.

Greg Jarboe By Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR. Join the discussion » 0 comments

While pro­fes­sion­al mar­keters at 27 brands are focused like a laser beam on Super Bowl 50 — which will be held on Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 7 — their peers at hun­dreds of oth­er brands, along with thou­sands of retail­ers, are focused on the fol­low­ing Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 14, which is Valentine’s Day. Why? Because mil­lions of their cus­tomers will spend an esti­mat­ed $18.9 bil­lion on Valentine’s Day gifts. And that’s bil­lion with a “B”. This makes the so-called “Big Game” look like “Small Pota­toes” by com­par­i­son.

Let’s take a clos­er look at con­sumers and the dig­i­tal media they use lead­ing up to the pur­chas­es they’ll make to cel­e­brate a day that’s been asso­ci­at­ed with roman­tic love since the High Mid­dle Ages, when the tra­di­tion of court­ly love first flour­ished.

Valentine’s Day Gift-Giving: A Brief Throwback To 2005

In 2005, I helped Ver­i­zon SuperPages.com opti­mize a press release that announced the results of a nation­al sur­vey of 1,000 con­sumers that was con­duct­ed around this time of year. Accord­ing to the sur­vey, men and women did­n’t always agree when it came to Valen­tine’s Day gifts and how much love costs. While 50 per­cent of men thought they need­ed to spend more than $50 to show their love for their sweet­heart on Valen­tine’s Day, three-quar­ters of women planned to spend less than that amount on gifts. For most women back then, what count­ed was the thought behind the Valen­tine’s Day gift, not the price tag. Sev­en­ty-five per­cent of females said they expect­ed their sig­nif­i­cant oth­er to spend less than $50, and only 5 per­cent expect­ed a gift worth $100 or more. The sur­vey also found that men were much more like­ly to send flow­ers, with 30 per­cent plan­ning to send flow­ers to their sweet­heart ver­sus only 4 per­cent of women. More than half of women pre­ferred to receive flow­ers at home on Valen­tine’s Day, while 24 per­cent want­ed them deliv­ered to their work­place, and 20 per­cent would have tak­en them in either loca­tion. When plan­ning a roman­tic din­ing expe­ri­ence, Ital­ian food and a home-cooked meal were the clear win­ners for both men and women. Thir­ty-two per­cent of respon­dents con­sid­ered Ital­ian food to be the most roman­tic meal for Valen­tine’s Day, and 20 per­cent thought cook­ing din­ner at home was the ide­al date. Eleven per­cent pre­ferred a steak­house, 8 per­cent would pick French food, and 7 per­cent thought seafood was the most roman­tic choice. Jaye Hersh, a celebri­ty shop­per and founder of the trendy Los Ange­les bou­tique Intu­ition, said at the time, “This year, it’s the small­er, more per­son­al­ized Valentine’s Day gifts that are hot, and you don’t have to spend a lot of mon­ey to say ‘I love you.’” Among the less expen­sive roman­tic gift ideas she shared were per­son­al­ized his and hers robes and paja­mas, pome­gran­ate can­dles, and mono­grammed dress shirts. More gift rec­om­men­da­tions from Hersh were fea­tured on SuperPages.com, which billed itself in the opti­mized press release as “the most com­pre­hen­sive shop­ping des­ti­na­tion where con­sumers can com­pare prices, pur­chase or bid on almost any gift for their loved ones.” Why devi­ate from the stan­dard cor­po­rate boil­er­plate? Because this sea­son­al cam­paign was designed to dri­ve traf­fic to the web­site for a spe­cif­ic hol­i­day. It’s worth not­ing that this cam­paign not only increased traf­fic to SuperPages.com, it also dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased the search­es for “florists” on the web­site beyond the nor­mal increase that was expect­ed for this sea­son­al term. In fact, there had been 342,478 search­es for “florists” on the site from Feb­ru­ary 6 to 14 in 2004. But, there were 1,841,272 search­es for “florists” on SuperPages.com from Feb­ru­ary 6 to 14 in 2005. That was an increase of 438 per­cent.

Valentine’s Gift-Giving: Now

Well, that was then and this is now. Ver­i­zon spun off its Super­Pages unit as a sep­a­rate com­pa­ny in 2006 and it merged with anoth­er com­pa­ny in 2013, cre­at­ing Dex Media. This explains why Super­Pages no longer has cam­paigns that pro­mote sur­vey results to dri­ve traf­fic to its web­site. How­ev­er, oth­er orga­ni­za­tions have con­duct­ed sur­veys around Valentine’s Day. So, pro­fes­sion­al mar­keters can dis­cov­er just how much cou­ples plan to spend a decade lat­er and if the cost of play­ing Cupid still varies by gen­der. For exam­ple, the Nation­al Retail Fed­er­a­tion (NRF) con­duct­ed a Valentine’s Day Con­sumer Spend­ing Sur­vey last year and found that the aver­age per­son cel­e­brat­ing Valentine’s Day would spend $142.31 on can­dy, flow­ers, appar­el, and more, up from $133.91 the pre­vi­ous year. Total spend­ing in 2015 was expect­ed to reach $18.9 bil­lion, a sur­vey high. While 53.2 per­cent of the 6,375 con­sumers sur­veyed planned to buy can­dy for the hol­i­day, spend­ing a total of $1.7 bil­lion, 21.1 per­cent planned to buy jew­el­ry for a total of $4.8 bil­lion, the high­est amount seen since NRF began track­ing spend­ing on Valentine’s gifts in 2010. In addi­tion, 37.8 per­cent planned to buy flow­ers, spend­ing a total of $2.1 bil­lion, and 35.1 per­cent had plans for a spe­cial night out, includ­ing movies and restau­rants, total­ing $3.6 bil­lion. Cel­e­brants also planned to spend near­ly $2 bil­lion on cloth­ing and $1.5 bil­lion on gift cards. The NRF sur­vey found 91 per­cent planned to treat their sig­nif­i­cant others/spouses to some­thing spe­cial for the con­sumer hol­i­day, with plans to spend an aver­age of $87.94 on them, up from $78.09 the pre­vi­ous year. In addi­tion, 58.7 per­cent planned to spend an aver­age of $26.26 on oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers and $6.30 on children’s classmates/teachers. It seems women were in for the biggest treat on Valentine’s Day. Men planned to spend $190.53 on aver­age, near­ly dou­ble what women planned to spend – which was $96.58 on aver­age. In addi­tion, adults between the ages of 25 to 34 planned to out­spend oth­er age groups at an aver­age of $213.04: 35-to-44-year-olds planned to spend an aver­age of $176.21, while 18-to-24-year-olds planned to spend an aver­age of $168.95. But wait, there’s more! A record 21.2 per­cent said they planned to include Fluffy and Fido in their Valentine’s Day plans, look­ing to spend a mere $5.28 on aver­age – which equates to a whop­ping $703 mil­lion on pint-sized gifts of all vari­eties. Accord­ing to the NRF sur­vey, dis­count (35.2 per­cent) and depart­ment stores (36.5 per­cent) were among the most vis­it­ed loca­tions for those look­ing for the per­fect Valentine’s Day gift, as were spe­cial­ty stores (19.4 per­cent) and florists (18.7 per­cent). In addi­tion, 25.1 per­cent said they would shop online and 13.3 per­cent would shop at a local or small busi­ness to find some­thing unique for their loved one. Oth­er research by Google has looked at how love­birds keep the spark alive with roman­tic ges­tures and gifts on Valen­tine’s Day. For exam­ple, there were three times as many search­es for “gifts for boyfriend” than “gifts for girl­friend” last Feb­ru­ary.
And the day before Valentine’s Day, gift givers search on mobile more than on desk­top and in the weeks lead­ing up, it’s neck and neck.

Valentine’s Day Gifts 2016: Marketing Insights

So, what should pro­fes­sion­al mar­keters who want to be vis­i­ble and per­sua­sive in the moments that real­ly mat­ter do with these trends and find­ings about Valentine’s Day gift-giv­ing?

1. Put Data-Driven Insights At The Heart Of Your Brief

The best ads hit us on an emo­tion­al lev­el. By under­stand­ing how peo­ple find and fall in love, brands can uncov­er fun­da­men­tal human truths and devel­op cre­ative and mes­sag­ing that tru­ly res­onate. See what insights you can find in Google Trends data that can fuel your cre­ative brief and exe­cu­tions.

2. Make A Love Connection Through Mobile, Search, Video

Love changes our dai­ly habits and behav­iors, and not just on Valentine’s Day. There’s a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with peo­ple dur­ing these life moments — from a first kiss to a wed­ding — all year round. These moments hap­pen on search, mobile and YouTube; are you there? Are your cam­paign win­dows wide enough to cap­ture inter­est beyond the hol­i­day?

3. Be There When They Need You Most

When it comes to love and mar­ket­ing, tim­ing is every­thing. Con­sumers are now con­stant­ly con­nect­ed, seek­ing answers, and mak­ing deci­sions imme­di­ate­ly. Mar­keters need to be there in the moment with time­ly, rel­e­vant con­tent and expe­ri­ences.

Greg Jarboe

Written by Greg Jarboe

President, SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency that was founded in 2003. He’s the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and also a contributor to The Art of SEO, Strategic Digital Marketing, Complete B2B Online Marketing, and Enchantment. He’s profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes, a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and writes for Tubular Insights and The SEM Post. He’s an executive education instructor at the Rutgers Business School and the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn.

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