Many people resent Valentine’s Day because they feel like the evil marketers at the greeting card, chocolate, and flower stores colluded to dupe them into buying more useless junk that they (and their significant others) don’t need. As a marketer, I can’t decide if I should be offended, or applauding the genius.
From the offended stance, I would say that the whole Valentine’s Day craze isn’t totally a marketer’s fault. I mean, people have to actually buy into this whole scheme, right? It’s also interesting that no one gets up in arms about St. Patrick’s Day, even though it’s a commercialized holiday as well. Maybe it’s because St. Patrick’s Day is all about drinking green beer and pinching people, instead of buying flowers? Maybe it’s because everyone has the ability to participate at different levels, and no one feels left out if they’re single (heck, you probably fare better when you’re single on St. Patrick’s Day!). Either way, I don’t place the blame totally at the marketer’s feet. As a society, we push for more, more, more, and the company’s bottom line needs to rise, rise, rise. And, quite frankly, “if you sell it, they will buy it”. Valentine’s Day bears and heart-shaped boxes would’ve died if no one bought those items, but people DO buy them, to the tune of millions of dollars. It’s like the latest toy craze, but for adults! So, if I’m going to get offended at the “evil marketer” accusation, I’d like to point a few fingers at society at large, and the obsession with outdoing the Jones in every aspect of gift-giving and purchasing.
However, I could also choose to applaud the marketers who increased sales profitably in a variety of industries with a single branding of one random day in February. People like to give and receive, and people like to compete and set expectations. Why not capitalize on this? Isn’t it a marketer’s job to see unmet needs in the market, and produce a product or service (or, in this case, a day) to meet those needs? Love is one of the strongest emotions to tap as a marketer, so what better way to sell something than to make a whole day dedicated to love? This is particularly valuable, since most of the items associated with Valentine’s Day have no utilitarian value. The flowers die, the chocolate makes you fat, and the bears just waste space. But humans value the ridiculous things that others do to show love. It’s such an intangible, immeasurable thing, that if you as a marketer can put some kind of price on it, you’ll hit a gold mine.
So yes, I must agree that Valentine’s Day is really a marketer’s holiday. My husband and I tend to shy away from commercialized holidays, and we’re working to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of marketers (it helps to have some inside information 🙂 ). But, I must admit, it made my day when flowers showed up at the office yesterday, the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day. We’re not flower people, and I know that my flowers will probably only last for a few days. But the sweet thought, the nice note, and the pop of color on a dreary day can make even the cynic’s heart melt. See… I knew it was marketing genius!
UPDATE: Newsy, a site that uses multiple resources to get the full view of a story, sent me a link to a video they produced on Valentine’s Day. Take a look at some of the crazy spending people do to show someone how much they care!