It’s that time of year again when the hopeless romantics among us rejoice, and the more reluctant romantics begrudgingly give in to dinner dates, gift giving, and rom-com movies. That’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Whether you’re a fan of the holiday (if you can call it that) or not, Valentine’s Day is a big shopping event for retailers, e-commerce players, and consumers alike. Invariably, that means it’s just as big of a deal for marketers and advertisers, too.
In this post, we cover just about everything you need to know about Valentine’s Day from a marketer’s point of view. We also dive into some context insights that reveal what content consumers are searching for and engaging with, and how you can use these insights to improve any digital campaigns you may have running during this time.
How does Valentine’s Day spending compare to other holidays?
In the US, Valentine’s Day dwarfs some of the other major shopping events of the year. Valentine’s Day spending in 2018 reached $19.6 billion, and in previous years the number has hovered between $17 billion and $19 billion.
Consider that US spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2018 was $6.2 billion and $7.9 billion, respectively, you can see how significant Valentine’s Day is for retailers and e-commerce partners.
In the UK, Valentine’s Day spending was estimated to reach £1.1 billion ($1.42 billion USD) in 2018, which is on par with the other major shopping events including Easter (£1.2 billion/$1.55 billion USD), and Black Friday (£1.39 billion/$1.79 billion USD spent on online retail sites).
In the Asia Pacific region, Valentine's Day has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Overall transactions during the Valentine's Day period increased by 74 percent between 2015 and 2018, with an additional 30 percent increase in e-commerce transactions, according to data released by Mastercard.
Where is the money spent?
As to where all that money goes, in the US, shoppers still favor brick-and-mortar stores—specifically, department stores—but digital isn’t so far behind, as 29 percent of consumers planned to buy gifts online in 2018.
In the UK, it’s a little different. According to Saavy, 56 percent of Valentine’s Day participants bought their gifts online, and that number went up to 70 percent for people ages 18 to 34.
What are consumers buying?
This should come as no surprise to anyone, but candy, greeting cards, and flowers round out the top three gifts that Valentine’s Day lovers plan to buy for each other. This is closely followed by “an evening out,” jewelry, and clothing.
Loved-up consumers in the Asia Pacific region prefer the classic dinner date with 69 percent of Valentine's Day spending attributed to dining out. But jewelry and flowers have also become popular recently, with purchases increasing 21 percent and 39 percent respectively since 2015.
Interestingly, the data also reveals consumers in Asia-Pacific are more inclined to travel elsewhere for Valentine's Day. The number of transactions for plane or train tickets increased 17 percent since 2015, accounting for 21 percent of total spend during this time in 2017.
Regardless of what your attitude is toward Valentine’s Day, we can see based on the information above that there is a plethora of opportunities for advertisers to engage consumers as they plan their special days for their chosen partners.
In addition to the above data on consumer spending habits, by looking through the lens of contextual intelligence, we can see what content consumers are searching for online and what types of content resonate most. This data can help improve the performance, scale, and reach of your in-market campaigns and ultimately deliver more effective ones for Valentine’s Day.
1. Valentine's Day content builds consistently to the big day
This graph shows how Valentine’s Day content begins to trend in mid-January and builds consistently until February 14. It appears that the best time to launch your Valentine’s Day campaigns is about a month out from the big day (so if you haven’t already pushed them live, get to it!). But also take note of when interest in the content is at its highest. In this case, it’s between February 10 and February 14, so it’s a great time to engage your audiences. Therefore, if you can, allocate more budget to these days for more impact.
2. Valentine's Day content is consumed at the last minute
Valentine’s Day in 2018 fell on a Wednesday, and we can see that engagement was highest on that day and those prior. Pace your campaigns accordingly, and focus on when engagement is highest for the greatest effect.
3. Women are planners, men are "panickers"
Despite not tracking devices or users, contextual data still reveals interesting consumer stories—and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Exploring content about gift ideas for men or women reveals when each sex begins researching what they’ll buy their significant others.
The data suggests that women were much better prepared for Valentine’s Day than men, with content for gift ideas for men seeing strong engagement throughout February. On the other hand, content with gift ideas for women surged on the last day, suggesting that men are waiting until the last minute for their Valentine’s Day inspirations.
This insight helps optimize campaign pacing and messaging. When targeting your Valentine’s Day audience, look to start with messaging for women, and then migrate to last-minute help for men.
4. People are primarily searching for date ideas and tips on "how to be more romantic"
The chart shows that 32 percent of all Valentine’s Day content was categorized under “Date Ideas,” suggesting that this is the main reason why people engage with Valentine’s Day content. “Romance Tips” came in a close second (30 percent). The data seems to show that we’re all trying hard to be more romantic lovers but are underprepared when it comes to planning the date, and it also gives marketers blueprints for their campaigns.
People are looking for ideas, inspiration, and help to make the day special so they can impress their partners. You should tap into these desires to engage audiences with the content that they’re most interested in and searching for.
5. Gift giving and Valentine's Day go hand-in-hand
The words populating the Valentine’s Day contextual predicts segment can also be found in adjacent segments that also focus on gift giving. Segments such as “Father’s Day, “fashion,” “gift giving,” and others all feature a similar mix of keywords found in the Valentine’s Day segment. Therefore, you can use these segments to generate more reach into connected audience groups and scale your campaigns further.
Whether you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t deny its importance for retailers and advertisers alike. And with so much at stake, it’s essential that any campaigns you have running at this time are given the best opportunity to succeed. The aforementioned data and context insights should lead to better, more informed campaigns. And if context isn’t already a part of your digital strategy , consider adding it—context segments can be activated in DSPs at any point and have an immediate impact on where your ads appear.
About Allan Stormon
Allan is the Content Marketing Manager at Oracle Data Cloud. He leads the content strategy and global content marketing program, producing content that helps marketers create and launch more effective campaigns with data.