Retailers wooing customers with fresh Valentine’s messages

After a 2016 that many would rather forget, Valentine’s Day arrived as a welcome chance for people to focus on those close to them rather than events beyond their control. Meanwhile, retailers did more than ever to steal customers’ hearts at this key calendar moment – prompting ABA to use its 5Drivers model to examine which brands successfully tapped into the emotions at play…

Not just for couples! Empowering all to spread the love and #Belong at Valentine’s

This year, in a twist on the usually couples-dominated nature of the day, retailers made increased attempts to lure single shoppers into getting involved in the spending frenzy – giving them an excuse to treat themselves. Boldly spreading the message that it’s OK to be young, free and single at this time of year, ASOS positioned its new clothing pieces as potential ‘love interests’. Similarly, Boohoo’s Instagram feed was a haven of positive visuals around spending the day alone.

Other brands like Bloom & Wild and Etsy invited us to treat all the special people in our lives rather than just our other halves ­– building a sense of belonging by reassuring customers that Valentine’s Day can be fun for everyone.

#Immersion in special experiences – for personal memories to treasure and share!

Another way Valentine’s Day is evolving is consumers’ growing emphasis on marking it through stand-out experiences rather than ‘more stuff’. Nights out, getaways or making the most of simple at-home pleasures (such as preparing special dinners) continue to grow in popularity. NOTHS rode this wave by, for the first time, combining personalised product suggestions with experience ideas, whilst ASOS had a live Facebook song-request feature. Similarly, travel brands like Virgin positioned Valentine’s Day as a chance to escape the troubles of the real world and create memories with a loved one. After all, exciting activities and places are usually so much more photogenic and impressive to share on social media than ‘stuff’ is.

Dialling up #Desire to tempt shoppers to go further

Of course, if one emotion was ever a natural fit with Valentine’s it would have to be desire – and as shoppers looked increasingly towards finding the truly special, thoughtful gift, some retailers were able to up their game and put personalised/luxury products at the fore of their campaigns. M&S and Waitrose led the way in the grocery arena via offers on indulgent feasts for two, with ‘food porn’ style advertising helping to seduce lovers into going all out. Meanwhile, other retailers like John Lewis opened customers’ eyes to a world of premium temptations.

So, Valentine’s Day 2017 not only offered respite from the gloom of winter, it also acted as a microcosm of wider shifts in consumer behaviour – a world where a box of chocolates may be exciting but only if it comes with an extra layer of the experiential and new.