Valentine’s Day, the first major gifting occasion in the UK, is traditionally devoted to love, experiences and gifts. However, the holiday is rapidly changing, which can leave retailers in the dark about how to stay at the forefront of trends and maximise sales.
How can retailers prepare for Valentine’s Day 2019? This year, the key is to focus heavily on customer experiences — both in store and offline.
Many consumers are tired of the over-commercialisation of Valentine’s Day. In a 2018 survey, for example, 77% of Brits said they thought the day was too focused on consumerism. When paired with the changing nature of “traditional” romance, some may also see the notion of Valentine’s Day as outdated.
However, that won’t stop consumers from spending. The same survey found that even though consumers felt Valentine’s was an artificial holiday, UK spending for the holiday in 2018 was up 3.2 points compared to 2017.
These two opposing forces (changing consumer attitudes but overall increased spending) means there are still important opportunities for retailers to boost sales around 14th February. There is a growing shift toward experiences and personalisation in Valentine’s shopping, as well as an overall broadening of the market.
Instead of simply selling to consumers, retailers should create an experience shoppers can buy into — one that extends beyond their screen and into the real world.
A great way for brands to do this is by partnering with other companies that complement their existing product range. Jewellery retailers, for example, could link with a local restaurant to include a complimentary three-course Valentine’s Day dinner with each purchase.
It’s true that Valentine’s Day has traditionally been about romance, but this has shifted in recent years. For example, "Galentine’s Day", in which women buy gifts for their female friends, is increasingly popular in the UK. Many retailers have also noticed an uplift in the number of self-care purchases that people make for themselves for the holiday. Consumers now see Valentine’s as a day to celebrate love of all types, which means you now have multiple audience primed to spend. Retailers should embrace this and adjust their marketing and advertising accordingly.
To properly prepare for Valentine’s Day, it’s important to plan marketing ahead of time. This means knowing which products are going to be most popular is crucial. Historically, categories like jewellery, flowers, chocolate and clothing have performed well. these trends are expected to remain stable in 2019.
However, there’s no need to panic if campaigns are still yet to be implemented. Most people procrastinate on their shopping. As many as 32% of consumers purchase gifts in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and the number of online searches for Valentine’s-related terms peaks on 12th February.
It’s vital to keep a close eye on how competitors are pricing their stock – but the small shopping window means that this can be very time and resource-heavy.
However, if retailers automated the competitor price-watching process, they could give back hours of time to their team: time which can be used to focus on strategy. Automation can save even more time with dynamic pricing, which can automatically adjust prices based on predetermined business rules.
Overall, whether retailers want to experiment with a new omnichannel strategy, collaborate with local partners or market a new fashion line, Valentine’s Day is a good chance to try something new. However, it’s important to think carefully about what the customer wants, then build tailored, personalised experiences to drive sales.
Image: Omnia Retail