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The Drivers of Valentine's Shopping Are Not What You Think!



INFLUENCER: Sarah Todd, CEO Geometry Global UK, on how brands and retailers are trying to inspire people to buy well

The Drivers of Valentine's Shopping Are Not What You Think!

As a Yorkshire lass born and bred, time-poor mum, and CEO of a 350+ strong agency, practicality, by necessity, is top of my agenda. And that includes gifts: both given and received.

But come St Valentine’s Day, my practical gene vanished into thin air and I truly hoped for an unexpected, ridiculously impractical treat.

My husband rather tetchily asked why this change in behaviour?  Which made me wonder, why do purchase desires change around 14 February? And how would brands and retailers try to inspire people to buy well on one of the major spending days of the year? 

A few observations:

Is it time to get lucky? 

Dare I speculate that Valentine’s Day fires up hormones? According to a US poll a quarter of men purchase on Valentine’s Day “because they feel obligated, or, are trying to get lucky”. While, 13 percent of women reported they celebrate “just because everyone does”.

Here in the UK, Durex revealed that 40 percent of the British consider Valentine’s Day cliché and 43% said they would try something new. Durex innovation is leading to more intimacy and also more fun than humdrum flowers and chocolates as shoppers challenge old habits and up the ante – not to mention the heart rate.


It’s a family affair

Nearly 70 percent of women consider Valentine’s Day an occasion that transcends romantic interest, feeling responsibility to recognise mums, sisters, grandmothers, children and friends (especially single ones).

This new family day broadened the opportunity for retailers into a family sharing opportunity to maximise a shift to sharing the occasion during the day vs the more traditional evening (especially given that Valentine’s Day fell on Sunday this year}.


Women are doing it for themselves

One in five women buy Valentine’s gifts … for themselves.  Across the Atlantic, the Society of American Florists reveals that while men shop for gifts for their partners, women are more inclined to buy for their mothers, friends and themselves.  Perhaps as we buy a gift for one darling, we feel heightened emotions for other loved ones and don’t want them to feel left out?

The social sell

Retailers got under the skin of shoppers, inspiring shoppers to buy well. Last year, Harvey Nicholls activated the “Happiness hint generator” allowing people to “send a hint” to the recipient of their choice. The feature was embedded into products on the e-commerce site, so that a virtual Valentine’s card could be sent with the gift.

This year, Tesco raised the bar with its brilliant Valentines Match-Making omni-channel campaign. Based on two simple insights “what's in your shopping basket says a lot about you as a person “, and, “you are more likely to find love in a supermarket than a nightclub”, the retailer matches couples simply on their purchases.  Traditional match-making venues watch out: people are clearly more inventive (or furtive, you choose…) than we might have thought.


Mobile commerce is wooing shoppers

British consumers prepared to celebrate the romantic holiday while on the go.

According to figures from Bing Ads, last year 69 per cent of all retail Valentine’s Day searches in the UK were made from mobile devices, along with 43 per cent of all clicks. 70 percent is predicted this year – as we wait for the scores to come in!

Retailers took note of the opportunity to activate cross-category solutions online. Amazon, Target, Macys all promoted curated guides to drive conversion across categories from the traditional chocolate, flowers and jewellery into tech, Fitbit, kitchenware, home goods.


Convenience for last minute shoppers

Last year, brands with pop-up presence on the day paid-off, as time-poor consumers increasingly left things to the last minute. In the UK, there has been a year-on-year increase of 41pc in “last minute Valentine’s gift” searches, Google says. Let’s not underestimate the value of the distress purchase – and no, it needn’t mean adieu romance, just that convenience and smart selling are key!

St Valentine’s Day appears light-spirited, but in reality it’s a complex time for many people, where expectations often exceed the norm. Creative brands and retailers with true insight into how people are inspired during the purchase decision journey have wisely used this opportunity to connect with shoppers and convert awareness into action. Watch this space for the next calendar date… Easter.

Sarah Todd is CEO of Geometry Global UK

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VMLY&R COMMERCE UK, Tue, 16 Feb 2016 17:19:53 GMT