This Valentines Day, the standard commercialism argument yet again rears its party-pooper head; retailers are cashing in on the celebration, taking advantage of love struck consumers, whilst yet again commercialising a traditional festival. The same was said a mere 7 weeks ago during the Christmas period. Whatever you may think of the commercial aspects of annual festivals and celebrations, retailers will never stop retailing, and buyers will never stop buying!
However, this Valentines, the same does not appear so true for brands. Whether they are tiring of the festival, have overspent during Christmas, or are saving their annual budgets for the impending London Olympic period, we have noticed a distinct lack of notable branded Experiential Marketing efforts this Valentines.
Aside from Dove’s week long Tweet Screen in London’s Victoria Station encouraging passers by to Tweet what they love most about their partner, live Valentines engagement events are few and far between. In our opinion, Augmented Reality has been surprisingly underused, with a meagre effort from Starbucks, involving scanning limited edition festive cups, as one of the only attempts of electronic engagement. Online efforts seem slightly more popular with both O2 and Heineken offering a personalised social media based messaging service, however even these fail to make up for the lack of engaging efforts this year.
The fact that consumers are predicted to spend £880 million during this period demonstrates that despite some scepticism, the average consumer will partake in some kind of Valentines expenditure, and therefore it seems foolish for brands not to take advantage of the celebration. Additionally, gestures from the likes of The Guardian, encouraging consumers to ‘Share your heartwarming pictures’ on Flikr are evidence that not only do consumer partake in retail purchases, they also enjoy participating in seasonal branded engagement efforts. Live marketing allows for a deep level of consumer participation, stimulating the senses with exciting and out-of-the-box promotional techniques.
In the past, recognising that Valentines is second only in importance to Christmas for the fragrance market, we created a bespoke shopping centre promotion for Bodyshop, combining fancy dress, a photo booth, and free samples to excite passers by. Not only did this result in a 23% increase in in store sales, but the brand experiences 100% increase in footfall.
With the cluttered celebratory retail market in full swing, brands should have taken full advantage of the opportunity to steer purchasing decisions by differentiating their brand with an enticing and out-of-the-box experience that consumers could not resist. Lets hope a great array of Olympic summer events makes up for the poor Valentines effort!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!