It is Valentine’s day. A day for showing your loved ones that you care… right?
This is a date that has been heavily commercialised, and where consumers’ behaviours (including boycotting rituals) are filled with meaning.
The key meaning from this date seems to be showing that you care. But how you do it varies widely.
The study ‘A Holiday Loved and Loathed: A Consumer Perspective of Valentine’s Day’ found that, in Western societies, males tend to focus on purchases – gifts for those that they want to impress, or an expensive meal. Females, on the other hand, tend to focus on rituals: grooming, buying a new outfit or preparing a romantic meal, for instance.
There are also international variations. For instance, in Japan the tradition is for women to give chocolates, and that includes male co-workers, nut just romantic partners. Though, when in a romantic relationship, men are expected to offer something in return that is at least two or three times more valuable than the gift received (according to Wikipedia).
Valentine’s day is also a day that evokes many negative feelings.
On the one hand, there are those consumers that do not like Valentine’s day at all. For some it is because it brings them memories of failed relationships, for others it is the idea of having a determined day to show affection, and for others still because of the behaviours adopted by couples celebrating the day.
These consumers, too, represent a marketing opportunity. For instance, some establishments offer singles’ nights, others promote self-gifts such as spas or other forms of self-pampering. And, of course, for those that can not stand the idea of being single on Valentine’s day, there are now ‘Facebook Girlfriends’.
There are now businesses and ‘entrepreneurs’ who offer to pose as your girlfriend on social network sites like Facebook. They will change their status to declare a relationship with you, comment in your postings and write romantic messages on your wall. More information here.
Interestingly, the main buyers of these services seem to be men – or, let me put it another way, the main ‘product’ offered by these providers are fake girlfriends. In my view, this raises a very interesting question about who really is the target of valentine related marketing efforts.
All in all, Valentine’s day is a nice opportunity for marketers. Those that are in a relationship, are targeted as potential buyers of expensive gifts or experiences. Those that aren’t, can be tempted with virtual girlfriend services. And for those that embrace their ‘single status’ there are plenty of non-romantic, but very profitable, options.
How are you celebrating?
I bought a lovely hand made card (see picture).
These cards are made by one of my students, Barbora, who is fundraising for a charity trek to the Everest. Please consider visiting her blog and supporting her initiative.