Valentine’s Day’s spending boost is a sign of the changing ad landscape

The news: Valentine’s Day spending is set to enjoy a comeback this year after a downswing during the pandemic, and a growing emphasis on romance among Americans has brands eager to reach both single and coupled consumers.

More on this: Nearly two years of pandemic-induced isolation has made romance top of mind for Americans, who are set to spend $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year. That would make 2022 the second-highest year on record, per the National Retail Federation.

  • Spending will increase significantly from $21.8 billion in 2021, driven by changing emphasis on relationships. According to a survey by Match and The Kinsey Institute, 62% of single respondents said they were seeking more committed relationships, and the desire to enter a relationship in the next year was strong among both millennials (76%) and Gen Z ers (81%).
  • Consumers who have already tied the knot are also feeling the love: 82% of married couples in a late 2020 survey said they “felt more committed” thanks to the pandemic. Overall, 53% of US consumers plan to celebrate the holiday this year, and 76% of those celebrating say it’s “important” to do so during the pandemic.
  • “Revenge” may not be the loveliest of emotions, but the desire to “revenge shop,” which helped drive record holiday season ecommerce sales, could also be contributing to higher spending.

Brands playing the field: Valentine’s Day advertising may bring to mind romantic jewelry ads, but brands are increasingly catering to single consumers as well.

  • Emerging technologies are playing a bigger role this year. Instagram is asking consumers to do a little retail therapy with a Valentine’s Day live shopping stream titled the “Gift Yourself Guide.” Samsung is also testing the romance potential of the metaverse with a virtual scavenger hunt that will gift participants an NFT.
  • Shake Shack is even partnering with DoorDash to create a limited-time dating site focused on how spicy users like their food.
  • Brands are eager to digitally engage all those with love on the brain because user data relating to romance is highly valuable. Dating app profiles, for example, provide insight to a user’s location, gender, hobbies, media interests, and more.

The takeaway: Despite all this, a deluge of lovey-dovey ads may not boost the mood of the estimated 50% of American adults who are single, and brands must also be considerate of consumers’ and regulators’ growing concerns about privacy.

  • A growing number of brands are giving consumers the ability to opt out of receiving Valentine’s Day ads—an option that’s becoming more available and important to consumers. As of November 2021, 62% of iOS users are opting out of data tracking after Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency update.