Valentine's Day: A Last-minute Lunge for Advertisers

One thing's for sure about Valentine's Day: If you're not planning ahead just a bit, it's going to hurt. It did for me last year when I promised my wife I'd go with her to a barre class as a Valentine's Day gift. After much delay on my part, she cashed in in August. I have a new level of respect for ballerinas and folks who make this part of their weekly routine.


This year, I'm thinking ahead so I can avoid another barre incident. A couple weeks is plenty of time to get my plans lined up, and if you're a retail advertiser hoping to get in on the Valentine's Day rush, that's plenty of time for you, too. Research into Valentine's Day shopping shows that everything happens in the last week before Valentine's Day. It's a procrastinator's favorite holiday!

Valentine's Day gets big love from shoppers

Valentine's Day is a huge holiday for shoppers, who spent $18.9 billion (yes, billion) last year. Of that, $1.7 billion was spent on candy. (No word on how this correlates with a rise in dentist visits.)

Here's some fun Valentine's Day stats for gift givers to keep in mind:

  • Average number of roses produced for Valentine's Day: 196 million
  • Number of Valentine's Day cards exchanged annually: 180 million
  • Percent of Valentine's Day cards bought by women: 85 percent
  • Percent of flowers bought by men: 73 percent
  • Percent of women who send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day: 14 percent
  • Percent of people who would love a smartphone gift this Valentine's Day: 40 percent
  • Percent of people who prefer chocolate or candy for Valentine's Day: 69 percent

What does a Valentine's Day digital footprint look like?

Getting a close look at the data that search engines have is a great way to see what's going on with shoppers, because searches show intent so clearly. We only search for things we're interested in. Here's what the top searches for Valentine's Day look like:


Search data also points to Valentine's Day as a last-minute shopping day. There's a huge spike in searches on words related to Valentine's Day between February 1 and February 14th.


Six million people planned or expected a marriage proposal on February 14.

Six million people is a lot. That's almost double the population of Los Angeles. It's no wonder Valentine's is a billion-dollar retail day.

What does all this mean for businesses and marketers who love Valentine's Day?

  1. Consider all angles when it comes to targeting and demographics. For example, if men are buying the most flowers, advertise where men will be looking, or on keywords they will be using. Same is true for women buying cards. Recognize that sometimes non-traditional gifts (smartphones) are worth advertising at this time.
  2. Be conservative with your marketing budget until the last 10 days or so before Valentine's Day, and then pour it all on. This is when all the shopping action happens, and spending your ad budget earlier will be wasted.

Still a couple weeks until Valentine's Day, so set yourself a reminder to book that date, order those flowers and buy those chocolates. And which also gives me another few weeks to get my plan in order. No, Pure Barre is not in the plans for 2016.