Valentine’s Day is here once again: a key date in the diary for retailers the world over as shoppers look to spoil their loved ones (or perhaps even themselves).
Despite our recent Shopper Profiles research suggesting that sales peaks are flattening out, online shopping in the run-up to Valentine’s Day continues to grow year-on-year at a staggering rate.
Comparing Valentine’s Day 2016 to 2015, the number of orders placed through our extensive affiliate network increased by 38%, indicating that this period still presents a significant opportunity for retailers to generate sales.
However, the evolving behaviour of the modern shopper is undoubtedly changing the way that retailer marketers attract and engage with their customers. Here are some of the insights we’ve drawn from our data to help shape your future Valentine’s Day campaigns.
The most popular gifts aren’t that surprising…
The top five verticals generating the most orders across our affiliate network in the two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2016 were:
- Apparel & accessories
- High-end/luxury stores
- Beauty & personal care
While none of these popular gift types are particularly surprising, it’s interesting to note how prominent high-end and luxury purchases are at this time of year. Although luxury shoppers are typically associated with favouring purchasing in-store rather than online, there is clearly an appetite for luxury items in the digital marketplace, particularly for the romantic out there.
According to Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2016 report, digital is one of the four key elements of growth for luxury goods companies. The Valentine’s Day period presents a significant opportunity to take advantage of a multichannel approach to engage with customers consistently, regardless of channel or device, and encourage them to purchase from you, rather than a competitor.
… but new gift preferences are emerging
Despite there being few surprises in the list of most ordered gifts, there are clear trends emerging for gifts growing in popularity. Sales of the traditional (and convenient) gift of flowers have grown 355% YoY. Photography has also seen huge YoY growth (298%), indicative of the growth of the range of personalised photography gifts now available online. Travel is growing in popularity as well (126% growth in sales YoY), as cheap flights, last minute deals and self-catering getaways through the likes of AirBnB become increasingly available.
Mobile is growing (of course)
We’ve seen a 74% YoY growth in the number of sales generated via mobile across our network, and we expect this growth to continue for 2017. Again, this demonstrates the importance of a multichannel approach that meets the expectations of the modern consumer, regardless of the device they are using. Shoppers now expect to be able to shop on desktop, mobile, tablet and in-store, and often use a combination before finally choosing to make a purchase.
Not only are there now more ways than ever for shoppers to complete their purchase, there are also almost endless ways that they are exposed to marketing messages. Brand websites, emails, social advertising, affiliate marketing, display advertising – these are just some of the ways retailers engage with the modern consumer.
More channels, more competition
With so much exposure to advertising, standing out from the crowd is a challenge for brands, particularly at key promotional times like Valentine’s Day. Ernest Jones – a Rakuten Marketing display client – is meeting this challenge by using video creative in its campaigns.
Ernest Jones took the opportunity of Valentine’s Day to try new things. However, the brand also used the data it had available to learn from past experiences, and incorporate that knowledge into the most recent campaigns.
Valentine’s Day 2016 saw Ernest Jones explore the idea of using the brands the jeweller stocks – some of them exclusively – for the first time with Rakuten Marketing, as shown in the example below.
Then, during Christmas 2016, Ernest Jones expanded on the campaign idea by using video creative for some of its top brands: LeVian, Tolkowsky, Neil Lane and Vera Wang. The Christmas campaign was a success, with the ads driving strong engagement and CTR. The RPM (revenue per thousand impressions) was upwards of £120 on average in the short timeframe the ads ran.
Off the back of the success of the creatives based on their stocked brands and the video ads in 2016, Ernest Jones decided to use a similar approach for its 2017 Valentine’s Day campaign.
H. Samuel too is choosing to use Valentine’s Day focused creatives with Rakuten Marketing for the first time this year.
Valentine’s shoppers are organised – or are they?
With the internet providing a barrage of marketing messages, it’s difficult for online shoppers to forget a big shopping day like Valentine’s. Aware of looming delivery deadlines, many Valentine’s shoppers are getting their online orders in well ahead of time.
In 2016, the peak sales day in the week before Valentine’s Day was the 7th February, suggesting most Valentine’s shoppers are fairly well organised when gift shopping for their sweetheart. The 7th was likely a popular purchase day as it was the last Sunday before Valentine’s Day – also a Sunday – as shoppers wanted to place their orders in time for standard delivery.
What’s interesting, however, is that more online sales were made on Valentine’s Day and the 15th of February than on any other day in the week before Valentine’s Day. This is perhaps indicative of the increasing availability of same-day delivery or click-and-collect, helping cater for the needs of those panicked last minute shoppers or those who forgot to buy a gift in time. It also suggests that people are perhaps simply treating themselves, as a result of the proliferation of Valentine’s Day treats for singles that so many brands are marketing these days.
So, although Valentine’s shopper behaviour is changing, the period remains a peak for generating sales. To make the most of this peak, brands must adapt to this changing behaviour, and provide innovative yet consistent messaging across multiple channels and devices – and be able to accurately measure the impact of these tactics.