Fall Back in Love with Valentine’s Day: Marketing Ideas for 2021
I have quite a few Valentine’s Days behind me, but the one I have the fondest memories of is when I was 13 years old.
February 14 was the day my parents yielded to peer pressure and bought a microwave oven, first ever in our household. To celebrate this purchase, I invited friends over to watch rom-coms (remember The Notebook?) and feast on microwaved delicacies.
This day had nothing to do with kisses and crushes, but love was in the air—and it smelled like buttery popcorn.
Fast forward to 2021, spending this holiday the way we did back then has become quite common, with the focus on online togetherness. In fact, February 14 is as inclusive as ever and celebrates all forms of love: romantic, platonic, and self-love.
For business owners, this development opens new possibilities for products and designs way beyond heart-shaped candies and teddy bears.
The changing face of Valentine’s Day
While flowers and chocolates still remain high on gift shoppers lists, consumers are looking for new ways to celebrate this day, and not just with their significant others, but also with family, friends, co-workers, and pets.
This shift is caused by a more socially conscious and influential younger generation. And they’re the ones in charge: younger millennials, ages 23–29, are the most likely generation to splash out on Valentine’s since they make up the majority of singles looking for love or couples settling down. Gen X is close second when it comes to spending money on their loved ones, followed by the baby boomer generation.
Gen Z and millennials, however, aren’t as interested in over-the-top romantic content. They’re celebrating Valentine’s Day for the fun of it and aren’t interested in over-hyping their plans.
That said, 50% of 13–36-year-olds still keep an eye out for Valentine-themed sales and promotions, so you shouldn’t be afraid to lean into the holiday. It just needs to be done in a way that highlights all the meaningful relationships people may have.
Here are Valentine’s Day marketing ideas that will help you ride the wave of this well-established holiday and target your audience in a fun and memorable way.
1) Think beyond romance
Romantic love is what started it, but the key to a successful Valentine’s Day marketing campaign is thinking non-romantically as well. For example:
- Get in on Galentine’s Day trend. Galentine’s day takes place on February 13, celebrating female friendships. This nonofficial holiday originates from a viral episode of the Parks and Recreation TV series and has become a popular real-life event among millennials. You can create a social media post or a whole marketing campaign around this day.
- Target pet owners. One in five people will buy gifts for their furry, feathered, four-legged companions during the lead up to St. Valentine’s. To supply this demand, retailers launch products like heart-shaped treats and chewable bouquets of roses. Pet subscription service BarkBox released a dedicated “Palentine’s Day” collection in 2019.
Consider creating designs that celebrate love for animals:
Once you’ve established who you want to target, it’s time to tweak your store.
2) Prepare and promote your irresistible offer
This holiday is the time to get creative with your product catalog. Your competitors also want to take advantage of increased ecommerce sales in February, so here’s what you can do to prepare your store and marketing strategy:
- Start a limited-time-only Valentine’s Day product line
- Create a gift guide. Help spark Valentine’s Day shoppers’ imagination and make decisions with a themed gift guide with some out-of-the-box ideas.
- Offer a gift to your customers. Most gift shoppers are still recovering from their winter holiday shopping craze, and don’t expect hefty discounts in the first weeks of the new year. To show your love, offer them free shipping, conditional free shipping, or a love-ly coupon code; a refreshing 20–50% discount is a nice touch as well.
- Create a date-night product line
If you’re wondering what to sell for Valentine’s Day, matching t-shirts, customized jewelry, throw blankets, and loungewear sets are the perfect candidates.
- Take one of your best sellers and alter it with a Valentine’s vibe
- Introduce product customization. Product customization will make your customer a co-producer of your brand. Besides, people will literally be telling you what kind of designs they want, so the data you gather from customization is a great source of inspiration on how you can further expand your catalog and build your brand image.
Check out Printful’s Product Customization Tool that allows customers to make a product design their own!
- Offer matching couple’s sets
- Update your product descriptions and add keywords that are applicable to this sales event. People are looking for Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones, so make sure your products feature the keywords likely used in searches.
- Create a themed email campaign. Once you’ve prepared your offer, let your customers know about your deal with an email campaign. The most important detail in your campaign is the subject line.
The highest open rates come from subject lines that create urgency. Remind the customers of your delivery times and nudge them to start their Valentine’s shopping as soon as possible.
3) Focus on user-generated content on social media
You should promote your offer not just through email, but your other brand marketing channels as well. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to have some fun and interact with your audience through your social media platforms.
Let your visitors and customers get in on the fun through user-generated content:
- Run an Instagram photo contest. I think you’ll agree the best product photos are the ones with your customers enjoying what you’ve made. Take for example this adorable campaign by MeUndies and see if that’s something you can recreate in your store:
- Create a hashtag and ask your audience to submit their photos with your product. You can then pick the winner using an app or ask others to like their favorite photo.
- Ask people to share a funny or cringy date story. Funny date fails are super entertaining to read. Host a giveaway and ask other readers to upvote their favorite story.
- Invite your audience to share stories of love (and even heartbreak). Use storytelling to build a connection with your audience and create a sense of community.
- Create a Valentine’s Day poll. With a quick tap, your audience becomes more engaged with your brand and you gain valuable insights about your customers.
Include hashtags to widen your reach, but don’t use them haphazardly—they should be an organic part of your #question.
4) Remind people about self-love
While most retailers still focus on people buying Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones, many brands recognize the opportunity to approach a wider audience and make their Valentine’s Day offerings about pampering and “me time.”
- Promote being single as a positive experience. Until recently, single people have been the forgotten demographic on Valentine’s Day. This holiday, however, is a great opportunity to remind people to show love to the person who needs it the most—themselves.
5) Support a charity that’s close to your heart
Valentine’s Day is also a good time to give back and show a little love to the world outside your circle.
- Make a pledge to donate part of your Valentine’s Day profits to a charity of your choice.
- To spread the word, you can create a Facebook profile frame that charity supporters can use.
6) Switch up your logo and cover photos
Showing your playful side will remind your customers that behind your brand there are real humans with a sense of humor and that’s always heart-warming. Take a cue from Google, and have some fun with your logo!
- Change your Facebook page’s cover photo to a themed image that reflects your brand (let’s leave out the heartsy stock photos though).
7) Target people who just can’t with the romantic stuff
Everyone shows affection differently, and not all people who celebrate Valentine’s Day are into the lovey-dovey stuff. If it’s in line with your brand, you can create a niche that caters to those with a darker sense of humor.
Anti-Valentine’s Day gifts are also a thing. There are many people who like to show their stance against their perceived commercialization and unrealistic expectations of this holiday. Why not let them have some fun as well?
Slogan t-shirts never go out of style. When it comes to anti-Valentine’s designs, be sarcastic, but don’t be mean.
From us with love
As you can see, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have any limits—the celebrations can take the form of a fancy date, a movie night with friends, or much needed “me-time.” Think about how your target audience feels about this day, and tweak your campaigns to suit their taste.
So go out there and make something fun, silly, sweet, or extraordinary—and tell me in the comments how it goes!
This article was originally published in January 2020; it has since been updated.