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Brand Marketing: The Cupid’s Arrow of Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is a holiday with many mixed thoughts and emotions swirling around it. Many love the holiday and use it as an excuse to spend time with the ones they love and show them appreciation. For someone recently going through a breakup, the holiday may be a painful reminder of the one that got away. And for others, they could care less about the meaning of the holiday but are just excited for the discounted candy and flowers the day after.

Whatever your feelings may be about this controversial holiday, one thing is for sure: Valentine’s Day has drastically evolved from its humble beginnings. But how did this holiday go from an ancient Roman festival to a holiday filled with love, expectations, and lavish gifts?

We’ll tell you how… marketing. In this blog, RSA will examine the beginning of Valentine’s Day and how marketing has morphed it into a day the average person spends $165 on.

A brief history lesson:

The truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, but they are all centered upon Saint Valentine. One legend says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than men with wives so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and performed secret marriages for young lovers.

Another legend says that an imprisoned Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter, and on the day before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine”.  While no one knows the exact true story, Valentine was categorized as a heroic, romantic figure and became one of the most popular saints in England and France.

As far as the date of Valentine’s Day, many historians believe the Christian Church decided to hold Valentine’s Day in February to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of Agriculture. During the festival, an animal would be sacrificed to bring fertility to both the fields and the Roman women in the coming years.

The oldest known valentine still in existence was written in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans. Then, in the 1840s Esther A. Howland became the first person to mass-produce valentines in America. Today, approximately 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged worldwide.

Valentines today:

Since the 1840’s the production and distribution of Valentine’s Day cards has exploded. Not only that, but lovers are bombarded with television commercials, radio advertisements, and targeted digital ads trying to convince them to drop wads of cash on their significant others.

As we all know, stores begin advertising for the holidays months in advance. Many stores sell Christmas decorations well before Halloween and Valentine’s Day is no different. Valentine’s Day marketing starts, on average, two months before the holiday begins. This means if you are a business that relies heavily on Valentine’s Day sales, starting your marketing early is crucial. But how can you make your marketing stand out in the oversaturation of love, hearts, and romance?

We all know that consumer experience is the driving factor in purchasing decisions.  Use this Valentine’s Day to focus on sharing impactful, meaningful messaging with your customers. This will help them feel better connected to your brand which may ultimately make them willing to purchase more.

Instead of being one of the thousands of businesses sending special product offers, or email blasts, think outside the box and use this holiday as a chance to show your appreciation for your customers.

How to stand out with your V-Day marketing:

  • Customer Appreciation: Instead of trying to push products on your customers, use Valentine’s Day as a way to express your customer appreciation. Send your customers a message letting them know you appreciate them and their business. This will show your customers you care and helps build authentic relationships with current and potential customers.
  • Don’t forget the singles: Traditional Valentine’s Day marketing messages are often romantic, lovey-dovey sentiments. However, if you have single people in your audience these messages may alienate them. Instead of making people feel left out, encourage self-care this Valentine’s Day and send a generic appreciation message, instead of something rooted in romance.
  • Understand the diversity of love: If you decide to honor love this Valentine’s Day, make sure you are being cognizant of all the different ways to love. Steer clear of traditional depictions of love and make sure you are inclusive of LGBTQ+ relationships. However, don’t forget that not all love has to be romantic. Love for your family, pets, friends, and hobbies should also be celebrated.

Whatever your feelings are about V-day we hope you spend it with those you love, enjoying copious amounts of candy.

And remember, it’s just one day out of the year.


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