Every year brands big and small take advantage of this holiday to woo customers and increase their revenue.
This year, in the U.S.A. alone, Valentine’s Day is expected to generate $17 billion. It’s a vast sum, but nevertheless represents a drop of about $6 billion compared to 2020’s record-breaking romantic expenditure.
Although the forecast spend is down, there are still plentiful opportunities for brands. The following marketing campaigns are examples of clever, strategic approaches to drive engagement and sales during the Valentine’s Day gift-giving season.
It’s Not Just About Hearts and Chocolates
Jewelry, candy and flowers top the list of commonly purchased gifts for Valentine’s Day, totaling over $10 billion in sales. The straightforward strategy is to stock up on these products. But how do companies that don’t sell romantic products or gifts capture some of the Valentine’s Day market?
By knowing what consumers are typically looking for, savvy marketers are using their campaigns to provide alternative gift ideas.
BirchboxMan, a monthly subscription service for men’s grooming supplies, launched a better-than-chocolate campaign for a previous Valentine’s Day – a subtle attack on traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. This year they published a compilation of gifts “that he’ll actually use”, again encouraging the consumer to go beyond the traditional gift options.
In Singapore, KFC partnered with Deliveroo for their campaign “Will Delive-Roo Be My Valentine”. Pre-orders of the Valentine’s Day Combo from participating KFC restaurants were delivered with a handmade ring featuring a miniature clay KFC Bucket filled with pieces of chicken and crowned with the Deliveroo head. Encouraging an unconventional Valentine’s celebration, Deliveroo stated that they were offering “the perfect excuse to skip the roses or chocolates, and instead gift this ring as a sign that you are truly deeply clucking mad for bae.”
Influence Shoppers with User-Generated Content
Social media referrals convert sales: 71% of consumers are likely to buy an item when it is recommended on social media. Engaging customers and influencers to create content, posted with a branded hashtag, increases traffic to your brand. Since 25% of search engine results go to user generated content, this can have a tremendous impact on sales.
MeUndies invited couples to don matching MeUndies sets and post the pic on their social media channels with the branded hashtag #matchmeundies. This campaign strengthened their brand profile through playful and authentic customer photos. The brand also saw increased demand for their product.
Valentine’s Day Is Not Just for Couples
Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day. In fact, almost half of consumers don’t. This segment can still be engaged to shop during the holiday. Singles will spend an estimated $1.85 billion on themselves on Valentine’s Day. Self-care and ‘gal’-entines, spending the holiday with other single girlfriends, are trending Valentine’s Day alternatives.
Every year since 2019, El Paso Zoo in the U.S. has offered disgruntled lovers an alternative way to mark Valentine’s Day. Guests are invited to name a cockroach after an ex-partner and then watch them being fed to the zoo’s gang of meerkats! Adapted this year to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions, the cleverly named “Quit Bugging Me” will go ahead in 2021 via live stream. The zoo’s unusual, comedic approach to what can be an uncomfortable or even miserable time for many has hit upon a successful formula to gain online traffic and new customers during the Valentine’s period.
Over 50% of web traffic is via mobile devices. In-app activity will increase 20% leading up to Valentine’s Day and almost all last-minute orders will be via a mobile device. Brands that do not take advantage of the Valentine’s Day e-commerce peak by creating powerful mobile consumer experiences will miss out.
Savvy marketers who are taking a multi-prong approach to drive mobile sales are:
1. Making sure that the mobile experience is as good as it would be on the desktop, because testing mobile sites to prevent loading issues prevents abandoned shopping carts.
2. Making gift-choosing easy. Filtering and searching should be simple and intuitive.
3. Publishing relevant content to drive mobile activity by offering discounts and promo codes to close the deal.
Valentine’s Day promotions have taken over the homepage of fashion platform Shein’s app, prompting consumers to consider what to wear on their special day. Influencer-curated styles with love-inspired names form the core of the #Shein4love campaign to drive awareness and sales.
Create Memorable Experiences
Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for customers to interact with a brand and create positive memories. Experiential marketing or event-based marketing invites consumers to get to know a brand through their senses. These experiences are then shared on social media through user-generated content, creating a buzz and influencing sales.
In 1991 White Castle, a ubiquitous fast-food chain in the U.S., started to decorate select stores with white tablecloths and invite customers to celebrate Valentine’s Day with them. This year, adapted to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, White Castle is offering a new drive-in dining experience with a special Valentine’s car-side service experience. Embracing the “new normal”, White Castle are helping their customers to have a unique, memorable and most importantly shareable, Valentine’s Day.
On the other hand recognizing the difficulty customers have had reimaging their wedding days during COVID-19, and to celebrate the history of proposals and romance in their restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts has put marriage on the menu with a special competition. They’ve partnered with I Do Drive Thru, an international drive-up wedding service created to help people get married during the pandemic, to perform ceremonies for the winners. Dunkin’ Donuts will also be selling special wedding merch through a dedicated online pop-up shop. This multi-channel campaign is set to drive online traffic, awareness and revenue for the brand.
Pimp Your Packaging
Updating product packaging is a great way to catch the eyes of new customers. During the Valentine’s Day sales period, creating limited edition or novelty packaging can drive sales.
Desert company Gü did just this in 2020. They featured the lyrics of well-known love songs – adapted to suit their brand – on product boxes. The light-hearted “Love Notes” campaign, which allowed lovers to declare their feelings with a sweet treat, was inspired by data which showed a huge sales increase, particularly with new customers, during the Valentine’s period in 2019. Some of the cleverly adapted lyrics include “Everything I do, I do it for Gü” and “I’m in love with the shape of Gü”.
Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity to launch creative and impactful marketing campaigns that connect brand and consumers. EU Business School offers a range of programs, including a Master in Marketing and an MBA in International Marketing, which teach the latest in digital marketing strategies and gives student the skills to push marketing boundaries and engage consumers in new, creative ways.