I love you…in a way

Do you get a card, some chocolates or even something a bit fancier? It’s only a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day – a day in which broken hearts are mended and relationships are reinforced. It does, however, always brings to my mind Alan Partridge..

Alan Partridge on the perfect Valentine’s Day: 

“That is the best Valentine’s I’ve had in eight years.” Jill: “What did you do eight years ago?” Alan: “Just had a better one… Went to Silverstone. Shook Jackie Stewart’s hand. Superb. My marriage fell apart soon after that.”

The day first became associated with romantic love through the writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards – and not much has changed since then – a comment on the enduring nature of love perhaps, rather than the aggressive domination of commercialism?

We’re a soppy lot in Britain, spending, approximately, £1.8bn on Valentine’s day in 2018. Women spend an average for £20 whilst men, clearly feeling like they need to make up for something – spend double that at £40 per person.

Outside of cards, confectionery leads the way in terms of the most purchased product for the day itself, but increasingly couples are looking to spend their money on experiences, rather than ‘things’, as dining out and romantic getaways grow in popularity ahead of more traditional gifts like flowers, jewellery and the ultimate cliché’ – sexy lingerie!

Whilst you won’t get many grocery retailers giving up gondola ends to sexy underwear this year, and you’ll probably struggle to sell the Morrison’s café as a romantic meal for two – there’s sure to be a demand for what remains the best sellers – cards, confectionery and flowers.

What’s also true, as predictable as the tide and the moon, is that people will leave it late to purchase gifts for their loved one. We asked our panel at KAM Community;

How close to the 14th February do you think you’ll purchase your gifts/cards for Valentine’s day this year?

More than 1 in 4 would be leaving it till the day before or the day itself to purchase these gifts, so if you’re a store in a convenience location – on the way to or from work – then pre-primed for the influx on these days and make sure that availability and display are tip-top to take advantage of these panic purchases. Remember than an average spend of over £30 per person shows that there’s a lot of money in love (and desperation!). So, take the opportunity to upsell high value products and premium lines of confectionery, champagne and spirits.

“Don’t forget that 1 in 4 consumers (according to our panel) will be single this Valentine’s day – so make sure you’re range of meals for one are fully stocked and your freezer is full of tubs of ice-cream!”

So, are we all loved up with Valentine’s day really? Well according to recent figures, 81% of consumer’s feel that Valentine’s day is too commercial and 52% feel that it’s a waste of money. Startling figures really when you consider its a near-on £2bn industry. It seems we hate it but we put up with it. To me, this points to a trend we see across many consumer goods, not just Valentine’s day, where consumers are looking for small everyday treats and experiences rather than large expenditures on consumer goods. We see it in the growth of premium spirits, craft beers, artisan coffee and chocolates. For a few pounds more, consumers are able to upgrade their ‘everyday’ experiences into something a little more special and premium.

Events such as Valentine’s Day are a classic example of where retailers can facilitate this premiumisation and encourage all shoppers to spend that little bit extra to make it a special day – so push your posh chocolates to the front and feel the love this Valentine’s day.


Blake Gladman

Strategy & Insight Director

Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).