Valentine’s Day 2021: a holiday that’s flirting with change, reports GWI

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GWI’s latest research (2,701 UK respondents and 2,812 US) shows that although couples and spouses are still central to the holiday – with 89% celebrating the occasion – almost half (44%) of single, widowed or divorced internet users intend to purchase a gift this Valentine’s Day. 

This should serve as a reminder for brands to encourage singletons to look after themselves too. Wellness brands can score a win here by aligning with alternative Valentine’s holidays, ensuring no-one gets left behind.

A little love for local business

Among those celebrating Valentine’s Day, 75% say they intend to purchase a gift for the holiday. Generally, gift buyers are more likely to be male, with Gen Z and millennials representing the most prominent generations in this audience.

This has implications for how marketers should approach this romantic season; Gen Z and millennials are particularly encouraged by exclusive content, click & collect delivery and social media purchase options – especially when products come recommended. 

Small businesses that are working hard to offer something unique that can’t be found at larger retailers will be at a significant advantage, as one in five UK and US internet users, who celebrate Valentine’s Day, say brands should offer personalized products. Businesses should lean on creatives here, supporting one another to produce customised products.

Hospitality can capitalise on the Valentine’s weekend – takeaway boom is pending, expect delays

While a national lockdown means UK couples will likely be confined to their homes, the prominence of home-activities, such as cooking a meal or ordering a takeaway, suggest the pandemic is likely to have little impact on their Valentine’s Day plans.

This weekend can expect to see a takeaway boom (and long wait times), as consumers opt to order meals from their favourite restaurants. Data shows there has been a significant increase in takeaway ordering since the pandemic began – four in 10 now treat themselves to a meal every month, a 19% increase since Q4 2019. Local restaurants should be prepared for peaked interest on the 14th, and rely on prompt delivery services in place of their usual Valentine’s bookings.

Around three in 10 couples say they tend to cook at home on Valentine’s Day, and so businesses in the hospitality industry have a chance to capitalise on this by promoting meal-kits and recipes – a short-term solution at the moment, but something that may become a mainstay for restaurants down the line.

For bars, home brewing or cocktail making kits might offer a similar solution. This is a great way to connect with LGBTQ+ audiences, who in ordinary circumstances are 80% more likely to celebrate Valentine’s Day in this manner.

Tom Morris, insights analyst & writer at GWI, comments: “If brands are to get all the love this Valentine’s Day, they’ll need to keep a few things in mind. 

Valentine’s Day celebrations won’t be put on hold, as the prominence of home-activities, such as cooking a meal or ordering a takeaway, suggests the pandemic is unlikely to drastically affect plans. 

“Brands need to consider how popular activities, such as dining out, can be recreated at home – and what their role in assisting this can be. Businesses have an opportunity to assist consumers with at-home/DIY solutions. They can capitalize on an already popular trend of cooking at home, for example, by offering recipes, meal kits, and takeaways this Valentine’s Day. It’s certainly a test for hospitality brands to really show how they’ve adapted in the pandemic. Brands also need to consider how they can make Valentine’s Day more inclusive. It’s not just couples celebrating Valentine’s Day anymore, it’s a day to celebrate all kinds of relationships – not just romantic ones.

“There will also be a big push to support local businesses. While online gift-buying is still the preferred method, gift-buyers are likely to support small or local businesses too. With a greater emphasis on the individual this year, small businesses that showcase personal, exclusive wares will be best placed to compete.”

GWI gathered insights from UK and U.S. internet users, from its core dataset and a Zeitgeist survey fielded in January. 

Valentine’s offers a chance to support local businesses
% of UK and U.S. internet users, celebrating Valentine’s, who intend to buy gifts from the following this year
All Valentine’s CelebratorsUKU.S.
Online through ecommerce sites (e.g. Amazon)353035
Local stores/small businesses231325
Online from other retailers (e.g. online sports retailer, beauty retailer)201620
Online directly from brand websites191820
Social media (e.g. Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shop)11711
I don’t plan to buy a gift253722