How Retailers Are Adapting Their Marketing Strategies This Valentine’s Day


With the past year marred by restrictions and the current lockdown rules meaning the public must stay at home in England until at least March, many upcoming annual giveaway events, such as Valentine’s Day, are expected to be very different.

Since the lockdown began, retail as an industry, especially among those who have embraced digitization, has remained stable during the worst of the pandemic. Valentine’s Day itself has evolved in its own way to be much more inclusive and innovative.

We have seen the emergence of counter-celebrations such as Valentine’s Day where female friendship is celebrated on the eve of Valentine’s Day. An NRF investigation found spending on friends is expected to reach $ 1.6 billion this year in the United States.

Another market that has evolved over the years is for pet gifts and the celebration of a romantic day with furry friends. From partners to buddies stuck together or separated, how will retailers change their strategy this year to meet the demand of loving consumers?

How consumers embraced Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is no longer just for loved ones and has evolved to show appreciation for friends, family, pets, and even co-workers.

Britons spent £ 1.45 billion last year and around £ 35 per person, up 0.6% from spending in 2019. According to SEJ research, not only are men the most spenders when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but they are also the ones who give the most gifts, as 62% of men planned to buy a gift for a loved one in 2020, compared to just 45% of women.

The same survey found that women who are considering buying a gift for their loved one start their search in early February, while men begin their search the day before Valentine’s Day.

In 2020, Snickers (Mars Chocolate, BOSCO Index: 742) played on these last-minute, forgetful partners, using their tagline “you’re not you when you’re hungry”. This has been used for both digital advertising and OOH. The physical bulletin board they created also had detachable notes that you could give to your loved one.

The concept of pop-up stores has grown into a billion pound industry and is a great way to create an interactive experience that drives brand awareness, engagement, and brings the brand face to face. face with customers.

The nut butter company Pip and Nut (BOSCO ™ index: 744) is a fast growing start-up and took its brand to the streets for Valentine’s Day 2020. It opened the “Love Lab” where customers could create their own personalized nut butter mixes with a personalized label. In addition to connecting with customers, Pip and Nut donated a jar of nut butter to a local food bank for every jar they created during the campaign.

Cupid’s bow is not always aimed at humans, as shopping for gifts and even pet cards has become a habit for Valentine’s Day. In the United States, people expected to spend $ 1.7 billion on their furry Valentine’s Day in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation, up 17% from what these animal lovers were spending on 2010. Here in the UK, research by Pets at Home (BOSCO Index: 705) found that 58.6% of pet owners admit to spending between £ 11 and £ 100 on their pet the most. last Valentine’s Day.

Loved in confinement 2021

This year, around 40 million Britons (76%) plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is a significant drop from last year, when 41.4 million Britons embraced love day. Spending on Valentine’s Day is expected to drop to £ 926million this year, where average spending will now be around £ 23 per person, potentially due to financial hardship from the pandemic.

Of those celebrating, 3 in 4 think it’s important to celebrate this year given the ongoing restrictions and the nationwide lockdown. With the country’s romantic options undoubtedly limited this year, it’s no surprise to find that 30% of couples who aren’t living together plan to spend time together indoors.

Before the lockdown, 63% of those celebrating Valentine’s Day said they preferred to stay and cook at home. Meal kits and “dinner at home” boxes have exploded in the UK and the search query “meal kit delivery” has increased 300% in the past 12 months (Google Trends).

Most supermarkets previously offered a Valentine’s Day meal for two, but with the current foreclosure restrictions and increasing pressure on public finances, the market is expected to be much more saturated.

Discount supermarket Aldi (BOSCO index: 669) recently introduced a “budget” Valentine’s Day meal for two that rivals large supermarkets such as M&S (BOSCO index: 617) and Tesco (BOSCO index: 732). These department stores previously dominated “Valentine’s Day dinner at home,” but to compete, Tesco has since slashed the price of its meal by 25%.

During the pandemic, we have seen an increase in direct-to-consumer sales and food and beverage giants such as Kraft Heinz (BOSCO index: 718) have rolled out the Heinz to Home service allowing consumers to purchase “Lots” of products that are delivered to their homes. Heinz continues to develop this offering and targets consumers for Valentine’s Day by running a contest on their Instagram page to win personalized “Marry Me” boxes of their Alphabetti.

As we saw on Valentine’s Day last year, and even more so after being separated from loved ones for almost a year, personalization is now a big trend. The UK personalized gift market is expected to reach £ 1 billion in 2021. Online greeting card company Moonpig (BOSCO index: 670) said it has delivered more than 50 million personalized cards, gifts and flower bouquets to its 12 million customers in 2020.

Inspired by the complexity of modern relationships, online florist Bloom & Wild (BOSCO Index: 674) has decided not to sell bouquets of red roses this year. They expressed that Valentine’s Day “shouldn’t be about ticking a box with a dozen generics” and instead introduced a unique array of flowers to suit every relationship and make the gift much more personalized for the consumer.

In Bloom & Wild’s latest customer survey, 58% said red roses are a cliché, 70% of women would prefer something other than red for Valentine’s Day, and 79% would prefer a thoughtful gift to red roses. traditional.

While many consumers are moving away from these traditional giveaways, Nike (BOSCO index: 671) and Adidas (BOSCO index: 666) have released collaborative ranges of their popular sneakers specifically for Valentine’s Day 2021. Moving away from the Targeting based on couples, Nike has designed these new sneakers for couples and those looking to have some fun. The Air Max 90 comes with a secret message on the tongue and “ME + AM90 = TRUE LOVE” as a peelable message on the heel.

Among trainers and flower deliveries, personal care is expected to be a big trend for Valentine’s Day this year as well as the rest of 2021. The search queries for “personal care gifts” and “personal care basket” have increased by 400% in the last 12 months (Google Trends).

Demand for loungewear and pajamas increased during the lockdown and many retailers were unable to keep up with the stock. As we are staying at home for Valentine’s Day, this home comforts market is guaranteed for continued growth. The search term “her and her pajamas” is already up 180%.

This year, many retailers can offer discounts to their customers for their loyalty during the pandemic or even run contests. 70% of consumers said they will continue to buy and support the retailers they rely on during this difficult time.

In early February, chocolate brand Ferrero launched a Valentine’s Day contest exclusively for independent retailers to help them “interact with their local shoppers during a tough start to the year.” Three retailers will win Ferrero Rocher luxury rose bouquets to give to shoppers or members of their community they believe deserve an award.

45% of UK adults have received more package deliveries during the coronavirus lockdown than ever before and we have become much more picky, looking forward to one click order and next day delivery. A significant proportion of retailers do not meet consumer expectations. When it comes to online giveaways, IMRG found that only 28% of consumers would rate the online giveaway experience they’ve had in the past six months as impressive. Retailers need to consider and invest in the end-to-end gift experience to be successful this Valentine’s Day.


Looking at how retailers responded during the pandemic, it’s clear that a more personalized customer experience is a key trend not just for Valentine’s Day, but for 2021 overall. As we have all grown to become much more sophisticated online, we as consumers expect a better customer experience from purchase decision to delivery. It is now damaging if retailers do not tackle this.

Valentine’s Day has become much more inclusive and progressive, retailers need to do the same to appeal to a large audience. As we are staying at home this year, it could be the perfect opportunity to reward customer loyalty and make people feel special whether they are spending it with loved ones or not.

One thing’s for sure, this year will be like a box of chocolates – we don’t know what we’re going to get.

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