12 February 2013
Valentine’s: a day they’d much rather forget?
According to a recent article in The Telegraph the number of middle-aged people living alone has soared by more than 50% since the mid 90s. This figure certainly suggests being single is becoming more common place; particularly within our older generations. The body who released the figures, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), states that of 26.4 million households in the UK, 7.9 million, or 29%, are made up of only one person, which has risen by more than a million over the past 16 years. So with this apparently growing single audience, will anyone be talking to them in the run up to Valentine’s Day?
With this in mind, are big named chains barking up the wrong love heart? Is marketing their products purely to loved up couples bad for their business? Twitter is already rife with anti Valentine’s comments and extensive lists for gifts, films and parties that don’t celebrate the international day of love. While at the same time, TV’s ad slots have been screaming about romantic meal deals, personalised card websites and supermarket’s offering the best value roses for weeks. As always, the social sphere is usually a good indication of public opinion, and much more instantaneous than the findings of long winded opinion based surveys. But is anybody listening to these key channels or are anti Valentine’s protesters regarded as just a bit bitter?
An article in the The Sun this week suggests that companies are in fact competing to slash the prices for traditional Valentine’s gifts in a bid to market to cash strapped Britain. There has always been a common argument that the day is just another commercial scheme for card and gift retailers to cash in, much like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter and Halloween with this article strongly supporting this school of thought. And if that is the case, are these same retailers and manufacturers missing a trick with the rise of single people in the population? Addressing those who have no interest in the lowest price of a dozen red roses or that ‘perfect’ piece of jewellery could in fact improve sales, if social conversation is anything to go by. With many implying they will be boycotting the big stores, cinemas, restaurants and even TV channels in a bid to avoid the soppy season of love, are chains damaging their brand by segregating a percentage of their audience?
With a nation divided, is there room for the airtime to be split evenly between those who love and those that love to hate it? Perhaps marketing budgets could be split down the middle with both traditional and anti Valentine’s campaigns providing more diversity for us, the viewing/reading/writing/listening/absorbing public.
And please don’t get me wrong- I LOVE Valentine’s Day and not just because my favourite colour is red. I thoroughly enjoy the creative elements involved, for example, this year I will be baking a heart shaped red velvet cake, creating an origami penguin as a card and writing all the nice things I forget to say on Post It notes left around the house- there will be none of that commercial tat for me!
So whatever your thoughts, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day this Thursday, or not....