• Sophie

Valentine's Day; In The Market For Love?

If you were a business wanting to jump on the Valentine's bandwagon, you could be forgiven for thinking it's all about the luuurrrrve between two lovely people. Therefore, to sell your stuff, you've simply got to find the romantic fools right?

Well, no.

Marketing is a little like dating - you'll have a much better chance of being invited up for 'coffee' at the end of the evening if you've put in the time and effort to genuinely get to know your date...


Valentine's Day originates from St. Valentine, a Catholic saint, who was executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II on 14th February during the third century A.D. Saint Valentinus composed a letter to a girl before he was executed and it was marked ‘From your Valentine'.

It didn't become the Valentine's Day we now know until much later. Somewhere between the humble note, Richard Cadbury inventing the first Valentines Day heart shaped chocolate box in the late 1800s, and now, we've got into the habit of spending a mind-boggling £1.45 billion on Valentines in the UK alone.

It's a HUGE market, so where to begin?


Flowers or biscuits?

You want to sell your stuff, first thing is to see what the market looks like. Let's use flowers as an example seeing as there are 224 million sold for Valentine's each year.

In the US 27% of those who buy flowers on are women and 73% are men. It is similar in the UK, although we buy less as a whole.

In the UK 21% of people choose flowers as their ideal Valentine’s day gift, spending a whopping £261 million on flower bouquets last year, almost the same amount as they splash out on flowers for Mother’s Day (£260 million). (source: Statista)

Looking at the flower market and these two pieces of information alone we've discovered we may want to market to men and women differently (let's not make any assumptions here) and that the market for flowers in the UK is only 21% of the Valentine's gift market - meaning the rest of it is made up of something else: chocolates (thanks Mr Cadbury), jewellery, takeaways or whatever.

Gen X vs Millennial?

We can look at the market in a different way, rather than looking what people buy, lets look at who spends what.

If we look at age groups in the UK, Generation Z (those born in the late 1990's) has overtaken millennials (born between early 80's and late 90's) as the UK’s highest-spending age group on Valentine’s Day. They spend £41 on average for their loved ones, followed by millennials at £32, followed by generation X (born early 60's - late 70's) at £19. (Source:

That is sort of helpful. What else?

Let's use location and use geographical regions as a way of grouping the market.

London is the 'most romantic' or at least, they spend the most in the UK, at around 40 quid per head, whereas the East Midlands had the lowest average spend at £16. The West Midlands, where I am based, is a little more generous, spending on average £24 (I'm pointing this out for my husband's benefit).

Again, sort of helpful?

Let's go back to the men vs women thing. Men spend more than women in the UK, spending on average £35, with one in ten spending more than £75. Women on the other hand spend less, with one in three women spending less than £10 and an average of £20. (Source: Evolution Money.)

None of these factors are particularly helpful on their own, but we are starting to build a picture. What else should we consider?

Husbands, wives or pets?

We've covered the gift market, gender, location and age, but have we considered for whom these consumers are buying?

Not everyone will buy a gift, but if you use Valentine's Day cards as a way of finding this information and you look in order of popularity, they are given to:

  • teachers

  • children

  • mothers

  • wives

  • 'sweethearts'

  • pets


Our assumption that Valentine's Day was simply for two people in love has gone out the window. It's not that this is untrue as such, it's more that as 90's Avril has noted, it is a little more complicated.

Not only are we contending with choice of gift, by different people, in different locations and with different budgets, we are looking at different types of love!

The Ancient Greeks identified 8 types of love:

1. Agape - Unconditional Love

2. Eros - Romantic Love

3. Philia - Affectionate Love

4. Philautia - Self-love

5. Storge - Familiar Love

6. Pragma - Enduring Love

7. Ludus - Playful Love

8. Mania - Obsessive Love

Now this is getting a little deep, but the point here is each type of love will have a different motivation. Love and appreciation for a teacher will be different to love for a pet (did you know at least 9 million people buy their pets a gift on Valentine's Day?!).

Search on any card site (I am a particular fan of Thortful, no they haven't paid me to say that) and you'll have a huge variety of options of cards to choose from. Appealing those different buyers might require a different tack...

Out, out? Netflix and chill?

How we behave around Valentine's is the key. Whether married or not, people are more likely to spend money when in a relationship than out of one, even if it is to treat themselves out of self love (Philautia).

Those who do plan something for Valentine's tend to be more last-minute, unless they are proposals planned for the day (which continue to be super popular, with 10% of all marriage proposals happen on February 14th) or weddings, which still see a higher rate on Valentine's even if it is on a weekday compared to any other weekday.

A survey a few years back found that 59% of men think Valentine’s Day is pointless. And of those remaining, one fifth think the most important aim of the day is to “get laid”. (Nice). (source: New Statesmen).

Romance not being high on the agenda means there is also a whole 'anti-Valentine' movement with bars, restaurants etc offering an alternative to the Hallmark sentimental stuff (this list of anti-Valentines events this year is just an example). And taking the anti-love theme even further, in Britain, February 14th is one of the busiest days for divorces, giving solicitors, attorneys and other providers of legal services a 549% bump in trade compared to the yearly average! (source: dontdisaapointme).


This information ☝ is what I could find on the internet about Valentine's Day in about an hour.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the stats, and if I were creating an actual marketing plan for a business wanting to penetrate the Valentine's market (poor word choice, apologies) I would be doing some more homework.

Hopefully, however, this little bit of desk research has highlighted to you how complex marketing can be and therefore why it is important to get to know your market before you dive in.

If you need a little help with that you know where I am.

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