Valentine’s Day has become big business for retailers and continues to grow. In 2016, the National Retail Federation reported spending to reach $19.7 billion. Consumers were set to spend, on average, $146 each on gifts for significant others, family and friends.
As revenue is increasing for Valentine’s Day, so are the number of gift purchases being made online. The same survey from the NRF found that almost 30% of consumers planned to purchase gifts from online retailers.
While not the kinds of numbers you see for Christmas, Valentine’s Day gift giving can provide a welcome boost in revenue in the early part of the year. To make sure that you’re making the most from potential Valentine’s Day sales, it’s important to pay attention to the trends – including who is buying, when they buy and what they spend – to maximize your profits for the first gifting holiday of the year.
He Bought, She Bought
It’s a fact – men and women shop differently for Valentine’s Day. It’s not enough, however, to simply acknowledge they shop differently when you’re a retailer looking to make the most out of the holiday. Those differences should guide your sales and promotions to target the right customer at the right time.
Women’s shopping for the holiday is varied, as is their list of recipients. According to NRF, women have expanded their gift list in recent years to include more than just their significant other. In addition to their partner, women are also buying for friends, parents, their children and their pets. Of the female respondents to a survey conducted by BestBlackFriday.com, 23% said that they would be purchasing a Valentine’s Day gift for their pet, with 16% of those planning to spend more than $50 on their furry friend.
Men, on the other hand, tend to focus their shopping on their significant other. Both men (84%) and women (86%) reported that they would be purchasing gifts for their significant others. But for women, their parents and pets ranked high as well, with 23% of survey respondents saying they would buy for parents, and, as noted above, 23% would buy for Fido or Fluffy, too. Men, on the other hand, called out family and friends as those most likely to also buy gifts for, but with lower numbers. Only 16% of male respondents to the survey said they would be purchasing gifts for friends, and 14% for family.
When shoppers make purchases can be critical to your sales and promotions plans, as well. A few shoppers, roughly 25%, begin shopping before the end of January. But the bulk begin in early February and shop right up until the 14th. It’s easy to assume that the late shoppers are men, and depending on what they are buying, that may be the case. Unsurprisingly, flower purchases are largely made by men and are purchased much closer to the actual date. But men also purchase jewelry almost three times as often as women do, and those purchases are made earlier in the month.
Spending is another big differentiator between the sexes. As we’ve seen, women tend to purchase for more people, but they also purchase less expensive items, like cards, candy and gift cards. In 2016, women were anticipated to spend about $96 on Valentine’s Day gifts. Men, by contrast, were projected to spend closer to $190. This syncs with the categories that they spend on the most, namely, jewelry, flowers and evenings out.
Putting the Trends to Work
Pulling this data together, there are some clear takeaways that can help you focus your efforts when attracting consumers to your Valentine’s Day offerings.
For instance, marketing focused at attracting men who are looking to buy jewelry should peak in the early part of the month. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value in speaking to this audience before and after early February, but that’s when you’ll have their attention for these higher-end purchases.
Don’t forget to include gifts for others when targeting women. Items that can be gifts for parents, children and even pets are on women’s radars. Women will be looking to make multiple, smaller purchases to cover everyone on their list. Promotions, sales and advertising that allows them to check everything off their list will hit a chord with this segment.
And don’t ignore online as an important channel. Both men and women research and purchase online and on their phones. They also use their phones for research and price comparisons, even when in a brick and mortar store.
Valentine’s Day is no longer just about little paper cards and candy hearts. It’s a noteworthy gift giving holiday with the potential to give your business a hefty revenue bump. Understanding your customer and focusing your messages and promotions for Valentine’s Day to meet them how and when they want to shop will set you above your competition and help consumers fall in love with your business.
Jay Alsup is the Director of Marketing for Forte Payment Systems.