Opinion

Brands lose when they forget singles around Valentine’s Day

With unique Valentine's Day messaging becoming an increasingly rare occurrence, Gabrielle Grew spots a clear gap in the market: singles.

It’s estimated that over 40% of the population will be single this Valentine’s Day. February is the month where Instagram feeds, Youtube, Facebook, billboards, radio ads and TV campaigns are flooded with images of happy couples and ‘things to do’ with your loved one. However, if you’ve ever been (or are) single on Valentine’s Day, this time of year is particularly painful — or bizarre — as a consumer.

For a business, this poses a unique opportunity to appeal to and relieve fabulously single men and women with clever marketing, sans cringe.

After the YES vote passed, Australian businesses were quick to more openly embrace the marketing opportunity that followed. Over 5,400 Australian same-sex marriages happened within the year following the ‘YES’ vote.

When the average Australian wedding costs around $65,000 each, this shift in legislation meant businesses in hospitality, venues, entertainment and fashion saw a significant spike in sales. In November 2017, ANZ Research predicted that marriage equality in Australia would bring economic benefits of at least $650 million in 12 months for wedding related expenditure.

Brands such as Kenneth Cole and Mr Theodore were quick to respond, engaging same-sex couples and the LGBTQI community in marketing campaigns that reflected all the love and happiness that Valentine’s Day messaging pivots around.

Businesses eagerly pounced on the opportunity to expand their marketing and sales with the same-sex community. So, why then is Valentine’s Day falling behind? The opportunity is huge for going against the grain and targeting singles.

It’s 2019 and all businesses should be recognising the broader market opportunity with niched, targeted campaigns. Surely the Dick Smith ‘who thinks you should give her one this Valentines Day?’ advertisements and the sickly pink ‘gifts from the heart’ catalogues have had their day. Our single and same-sex couple customers represent an untapped sector in the mainstream market. It’s time to change-up brand messaging to represent, rather than isolate the fabulous singletons.

Interestingly, US businesses are leading the way for shaking up stale couples marketing — perhaps unsurprisingly as the US leads the way in enthusiasm for this evolving cultural date.

Starbucks and Match.com have led the activation for pre-Valentines singles event, and in 2017, Lush featured only same-sex couples. A company called Singles Swag is also leading the charge, currently owning the ‘treat yourself’ and singles market, and the tagline: “Breaking Up Sucks, Being Single Doesn’t Have To” is appealing to singles more likely to shop at Plus One for “sexual wellness” products in the future.

But there’s definitely room for more. Imagine if Lush took it further to add the 40% single population to its campaign: “our Valentine’s Day goodies are even better when you don’t need to share them,” or “friends can be Valentine’s too!”

We’re hoping to see a more inclusive, cleverer take not only in February but around couples and the culture of love in the coming years. Gone are the days of relying on a partner for lavish, luxury gifts. In the words of queen Beyonce: “The rock I’m rocking? I bought it.”

Gabrielle Grew is co founder of Grew & Co, a luxury jewellery design house in Sydney’s Skittle lane and online.

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