Where is the Love? Shifting your Strategy to Support a Covid-19 Valentine’s Day

February is upon us, and as we settle comfortably into 2021, thoughts turn to the next biggest retail holiday in the calendar; Valentine’s Day. With over $27 billion spent last year in the US alone, Valentine’s Day is the gifting event that the industry feeds upon to rejuvenate and kick-start the economy after the post-Christmas slump.

Matilda Rose Moir

As reported by Google, Valentine’s Day involves key terms like flowers, gifts, and restaurants and if you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe ‘weekend break’. And while the search for ‘valentines’ and ‘gifts’ starts in earnest the week prior to February 14th, historically speaking, the hearts and cupids start appearing the moment the tinsel and trees disappear. However, this year questions are being raised on the transformative effects coronavirus is having on shopping habits, and what it’ll mean for the industry.

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the pandemic altered the seasonal dynamics of any festive period, and with hospitality related experiences out-of-the-question this year – due to social restrictions – how will the Valentine’s Day-related shopping landscape fare? In short, what can advertisers do to optimize their strategy and drive success this somewhat digital Valentine’s Day.

What Can We Expect this Valentine’s?

Brits and Americans alike proved their romantic side last year spending close to 30 billion combined on heart-shaped balloons, chocolates and reservations – an 8 billion increase in spend (compared to 2019). Accompanying this, the industry witnessed a shift away from materialistic goods to physical experiences with 71% of Valentine’s Day-related site traffic accredited to restaurant reservations and evenings out – a shift which was only set to increase in following years. That being said, if the Christmas season was anything to go by, we’ll undoubtedly see this year’s Valentine’s Day go off course and shift substantially. 

With no clear indication of lockdown regulations changing, the rise in demand for physical Valentine’s Day experiences – such as hotel reservations, dining and travel – will likely plummet, with investments moving back to materialistic goods. Not to mention the shift we’ll undoubtedly see from offline purchases to online.

January search trends are already reflecting this prediction with a 22% increase in Valentine’s day related terms compared to the same period last year. Directly comparing this year’s Google Trends to 2020, searches relating to physical gifts are significantly up YoY with a 69% increase in ‘valentines gifts’ and a 51% increase in ‘personalised gifts’. Searches relating to experiences/going out are significantly down with a 55% decrease in ‘experience gifts’ and a 66% decrease in ‘valentines dinner’ YoY, as users shift back to purchasing materialistic goods (online) in response to physical restrictions.

Valentines Day Daily Search interest: 2020 vs 2021 (Source = Google Trends)

Top Tips to Win at Valentine’s Day

With two weeks left until the big day, we’ve compiled some of our top tips to optimize your advertising spend and drive performance throughout the love-induced shopping frenzy. From romantic recommendations to orientated creatives here are our Valentine’s Day top tips.

Start Early, Finish Late – Lucy Smith, Senior Account Manager UK

It’s crucial to make the most of the whole Valentine’s Day period. We’re expecting longer research periods this year as more people move their shopping online, and the delivery chaos experienced over Christmas will still be fresh in the minds of many. Start your marketing early and make sure you’re front of mind when the peak (7 days before) of Valentine’s purchasing hits. Likewise, if you are able to offer delivery late in the day, make sure you’re highlighting this and phase your budget so that you can push right up to the 14th. Searches for next day delivery have skyrocketed YoY so if this is a service you can offer, make sure you’re making the most of it.

Open your Campaign Targeting to a Wider Market – Amy Jackson, Business Director

Don’t limit your marketing to traditional cuddly toys and red roses. February isn’t just about Valentine’s Day as the way consumers are purchasing and why they are purchasing has changed.

With global media phenomena opening up the social calendar to new dates and causes to celebrate, there’s more opportunity to think outside of the box with your audiences. As the effect of the  pandemic continues over the next few months at least,  it won’t be just those in relationships wanting to treat their loved ones this year so the market is more up for grabs than it’s ever been.

Romantic Recommendations – Ethan Vaughan, Senior Creative Development Executive

Help people find the perfect Valentine’s gift for their special someone (or for themselves) through product selection creatives. Allowing users to input details within a creative; such as gender, price range, and product type guides them towards finding the perfect gift and creates a more personalised and positive experience. No one wants to spend hours searching for valentine’s gifts and through product recommendations – based on their wants and needs – it not only takes the hassle out of gifting, but creates a more engaging user experience. Through building in trackable interaction points these product selections can then be leveraged across all channels to make the most out of your campaigns.

Push Little Luxuries – Lucy Smith, Senior Account Manager

Most people will have heard of the lipstick effect – when financial times are tough, consumers will still tend to buy small luxury items, even as larger ticket purchases have to be pushed back. If your products fall into this category then make sure you are pushing them in gift guides on site, and in your creative and ad messaging. There can also be a good cross-sell opportunity here for last minute add ons so maximise any opportunities during the checkout process.

Orientated Creative – Ashley Beaumont, Account Manager

Design is vital when it comes to Valentine’s day, and expressing love and passion through your creatives will definitely grab a hold of your target market. Using psychological ‘colours of love’ such as Pink and Red, will allow the user to know what to expect before even focusing on the ad content. In terms of imagery, using a couple in an ad is an effective way to get the user to resonate with the creative. The imagery should focus on the couple being loving (keep it PG of course) or sharing experiences with one another. Lastly, the CTA is essential for cementing that engagement, referencing the other half of the couple in the creative e.g. “Make them Feel Special”.

For more information on how to succeed this Valentine’s Day, and to get some external insights into your campaign performance, get in touch with the team today.

Read Next

Find out how we can help you

With offices around the world, we can build a team perfect for your needs.

Keep up to date with our monthly insight digest