With love in the air, our high streets should be a sea of red. Valentine’s Day is the first big campaign of the year for retailers after Christmas and the first opportunity to seize disposable income from shoppers.
The majority of stores certainly are swathed in red this week but, far from playing cupid, overall Valentine’s messages have been distinctly stifled by a different kind of red. Deep into February, Sale is still prevalent in many stores, making it hard for retailers to achieve the premium context that this important gift-giving period requires to succeed. Unsurprisingly, those with the most sophisticated Valentine’s executions instore are retailers who have long cleared out the winter season.
All Hearts and Flowers?
The standard hearts and flowers aesthetic, beloved of jewellers and chocolatiers, still stands strong during Valentine’s. Delivered with limited ingenuity or creativity, however, it has little impact and is easily overlooked. Several fashion retailers are particularly guilty of this, with Valentine’s POS implemented with little or no context.
The best examples, such as Swarovski’s ‘Follow your Heart’ window – a 3D installation with a simple message – still prove to be heart-stopping. Tiffany’s modern take on this theme is further evidence of its big international push to drive sales and tempt more aspiring younger millennial customers. The brand has clearly focused time, energy and investment on delivering a Valentine’s campaign with real strength – the pink and red graphic hearts punctuating their standard Tiffany blue to great effect. This is an example of a brand that has taken the care to weave Valentine’s into the heart of its brand. And wherever we’ve been, from New York or London, visual execution of its Valentine’s campaign has nothing but perfect.
Also interesting is the tongue-in-cheek approach that has been adopted by more forward-thinking brands in recent years and seems to have come into its own in 2019. In the UK, Paperchase have adorned their windows with pink neon kisses and the tagline ‘Make Love’ whilst Molton Brown’s Regent Street window features neon lightning strikes and a nod to social media with their ‘Love at first like’ campaign. These edgier messages are likely to have wider appeal, especially to those who want to inject Valentine’s Day with a sense of fun rather than serious heartfelt gestures. Retailers would do well to remember that for many, traditional Valentine’s customs are at best something to endure so giving customers another or a better reason to buy can only increase sales.
it’s something that retailers should not be ignoring – yet largely they are
It has been argued that social media has made us a far more narcissistic and self-absorbed society today. That may or may not be true but retailers are definitely willing to put this to the test this year with an increasing amount of campaigns focusing on us treating ourselves this Valentine’s Day. Self-care has also become something of a buzzword in the health and wellness arena making it acceptable to put yourself first for a change. Within retail, Selfridges leads the way with their ‘I Love You / I Love Me’ campaign. A clever piece of marketing that works across departments with a special focus in the food hall and beauty salons as opposed to the usual Valentine’s gift departments. Products are segmented by theme, be it power foods or ingredients for Date Night with strong POS messages highlighting reasons to buy. Fortnum & Mason’s windows too feature an ‘All you need is Love Fortnums’ message, literally striking out the notion of love from Valentine’s Day.
Love for all
In the context of Valentine’s fun, it was in a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation that the term ‘Galentines Day’ was first coined. In the nine years since, this pre-Valentine’s celebration focusing on your best girl pals has slowly gathered pace. In our current climate of ‘girl power’ and with 412k posts on Instagram, Galentines (along with Palentines – the gender-neutral version) it’s something that retailers should not be ignoring – yet largely they are.
Despite the examples of ‘good’, largely the presentations on our high streets for Valentine’s Day remain traditional and predictable. This is an occasion that has the potential to be exploited by retailers in so many ways with just a bit of creativity and original thinking. In challenging times for retail, there is a clear need for more brands to be more attentive to the opportunities that exists to increase revenue and promote greater love (and reasons) for shopping in stores.
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