The season of love is upon us! And for Valentine’s Day, with a little bit of creativity and strategic planning, you can turn this holiday into an exciting promotional event that your customers will love.  

But how can your brand stand out in a noisy marketplace full of consumer love this year? The marketing equivalent of a last-minute bunch of gas station flowers simply won’t cut it.  

We’ve delved into how brands can curate long-term loyalty love stories and spark exciting new customer relationships this Valentine’s Day. We’ve also highlighted some common pitfalls, to avoid so your brand can avoid any nasty break-ups. 

Let’s get started. 

Valentine’s Day: 2024 market challenges and opportunities  

 Romance definitely isn’t dead, but brands are facing some Valentine’s Day challenges this year.  

According to Mintel, there was a 19% year-on-year decrease in spending in 2023, and amongst those who did buy, 50% said they bought fewer Valentine’s Day gifts because of financial concerns. It’s no surprise, considering this was in the wake of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. People were also actively cancelling and returning purchases just before the actual day. 

But there is a ray of hope for 2024. With the easing of inflation in the latter half of 2023, people may be more open to indulging in some feel-good gifts of love and appreciation – for themselves, their partner, their friends, or their pets (more on this later). 

Mindful and meaningful consumption will be top of mind as there is growing consumer demand for gifts that last longer. 63% of consumers are willing to spend more on these types of gifts when shopping for Valentine’s Day, which aligns with the growing fatigue among consumers about the throwaway nature of many usual Valentine’s Day gifts, amid the rise of the conscious consumer 

Success this Valentine’s Day will rely on more personal and relevant messaging alongside authentic, targeted promotional activities that add value to consumers’ lives and bring joy. 

Love is all around: Diverse and inclusive marketing messages 

Brands run the risk of seriously limiting their Valentine’s Day promotional success if they only target the traditional Valentine’s consumer – someone who wants to treat their partner or is hoping to enter a relationship with a thoughtful and romantic gift.  

It’s time to think outside the box (of chocolates).  

Social media has encouraged people to celebrate all kinds of love, including friendship (Galentine’s Day was a big hit in 2023) – thanks Lesley Knope. Even pets can feel the love with campaigns targeted at fluffy family members. 

Brands can show real love to their audiences by positioning love in more wholesome and inclusive ways. It’s no longer about selling singledom; it can be about bringing families, communities – even online niches together.  

Let’s not forget self-love, a concept that has gained increased momentum over the last few years and is still a hot topic. It has the potential to tap into almost anyone’s psyche. Who doesn’t like to treat themselves? 

John Lewis shared a Valentine’s gift guide about self-love, urging its customers to use Valentine’s Day to practise self-care and look after their mental and physical well-being. The brand told its customers, ‘Cupid can be an irksome little imp, especially around Valentine’s Day but don’t rely on errant arrows when the best way to elicit that warm, fuzzy glow is simply by being good to yourself.’ 

Krispy Kreme UK went even further. It deployed a Valentine’s Day gift-with-purchase campaign with a twist, encouraging customers to spoil their ‘work spouse.’ The promotion allowed customers to buy a limited-edition Valentine’s doughnut and receive a free doughnut and a work-themed Valentine’s card. The campaign illustrated that Valentine’s isn’t just for romance – you can also show your love for your co-workers. 

When to start your Valentine’s Day promotional activity 

As soon as Christmas is over, and the January sales are dying, attention turns to Valentine’s Day.  

Ideally, you want to start your Valentine’s Day campaign early to expand its impact as the big day approaches. There will be early birds, who are super organised and like to start planning their gifts before the end of January is even in sight, the more regular shoppers, and the last-minute panickers putting things in their basket at midnight on the 13th of February.  

When looking at Valentine’s Day promotional plans, don’t just think of the date itself. Start early to capture all of these shopping styles.  

Etsy for example, starts its Valentine’s Day hype right after Christmas, giving plenty of time for sellers to reveal and promote their special items and sales. This creates a steady but obvious build-up of Valentine’s Day content and offers teasing up to the big day. 


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The role promotional activity can play in hitting the Valentine’s Day jackpot 

We’ve outlined some go-to marketing promotions that have the potential to impress this Valentine’s Day, as well as some best practice examples for good measure. 

Loyalty Programs: Cupid’s Long-Lasting Arrows 

This Valentine’s Day, smart brands will harness the power of loyalty programs to build on existing relationships and make them even more long term. Loyalty programs, adorned with Valentine-themed perks, not only show appreciation but also deepen the emotional bond between brands and their cherished customers. 

After all, Valentine’s Day is all about love, and it’s a great opportunity to thank your loyal customers for the love they’ve shown your brand by returning the favour with exclusive offers or gifts. Done right, your loyalty members will feel appreciated and valued, which is how most people want to feel on Valentine’s Day. 

Loyalty programs and a well-timed Valentine’s treat can cement a sense of commitment strengthening the relationship between a brand and a customer, serving both their practical (consistent service) and emotional (sense of belonging) needs. 

Don’t forget, your loyal customers are your best marketing tool, so leverage that extra power for your Valentine’s Day marketing. Give consumers the gift of extra referral points, products, bonuses, or discounts for sharing offers with friends and family. If the person they refer gets to enjoy a small gift too, well that’s even better. Your existing customer will feel like they are gifting their friend or family member something for free, adding a little extra love to their day.  

Customers acquired through Word-of-Mouth (WOM), which includes referral programs, tend to churn less than customers acquired through traditional channels (Bucklin, et al., 2009). 

Loyalty programmes with a Valentine’s Day treat are also a great way to re-engage with customers who may not have purchased from you in a while. Put your brand back at the front of their mind, with a personalised and relevant gift or treat.  

Valentine’s Loyalty Program: Pro Tips:  

  • Consider special Valentine-themed tiers, where loyal customers unlock exclusive rewards, discounts, or personalised experiences.  
  • Use the data you’ve gathered to tailor rewards to your customers. They’ll appreciate the personal touch. 
  • Transactional rewards are great, but don’t forget the power of unique, on-brand experiences to deepen your relationship with customers. 
  • Partner with other businesses to expand the variety of your rewards and broaden your reach.

Case Study: Dunkin’ Donuts Valentine’s Day Promotion 

Dunkin’ Donuts added some gamification to one of its members only Valentine’s promotions. The promotion encouraged its Rewards (loyalty scheme) members to play a Dunkin’ trivia game on social media to unlock a secret promo code. 

The brand said, ‘once you’ve proven your love, enter your promo code in the Offers section of the app, purchase a medium or large espresso drink by 2/14 and earn a FREE Beverage reward. Not a member? Join today!’

See what they did there? Not only were they treating existing loyal customers to a free drink, but new customers or non-loyalty scheme members had the chance to join in the fun and take advantage of the offer – not to mention the great engagement the brand gained from this type of social-led promotion.

Free Gifts: Love Language Spoken in Surprises 

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with tokens of affection, and brands can translate this sentiment into free gifts that surprise and delight new customers. 

A free gift, or gift with purchase, will enhance the perceived value of a product and can help introduce new customers to your brand. Done right, it could be what turns a potential customer’s head or catches their eye, making your brand look pretty attractive. 

If you think about it, a little extra something when a customer buys from you is another kind of reward. It thanks them for making the purchase, puts a smile on their face, and can be a potent way to drive sales and boost customer satisfaction. Offering a freebie can lead to enhanced brand perception and a deep emotional connection with your customers – leading to stronger brand loyalty in the long run. 

Valentine’s Day Gift with Purchase Pro Tip:  

  • To make it more impactful, ensure the gift complements the purchased product and enhances the user experience. 
  • If you’re introducing a new product, offering it as a free gift with a related purchase can encourage customers to try it. 
  • If you have excess stock of a particular product, offering it as a gift with purchase can help you move it more quickly. 

Case Study: Elemis Galentine’s Day Promotion 

We’ve mentioned Galentine’s Day before. Falling on the 13th of February, this day is dedicated to friendship between women.  

British skincare brand Elemis hosted a simple buy-one-get-one-free promotion to celebrate self-love and friendship. Customers who bought a participating product could get another one for free as a gift for their best friend. 

This is a great example of a brand using a twist on Valentine’s Day-related messaging to support a promotional tactic for maximum impact. 

Limited-Time Offers: Seizing the Moment  

By its very nature, Valentine’s Day is fleeting. Come 15th February, promotional marketing, or any kind of marketing centred around Valentine’s Day, will have lost of its mojo.  

Brands can capitalise on this sense of urgency by crafting irresistible limited-time promotional offers. The time sensitivity of Valentine’s Day lends itself really well to limited-time promotions that create a buzz and drive immediate action.  

If your brand can speak to your audience during your Valentine’s Day promotion in a way that communicates the scarcity and urgency of the holiday, you could hold the key for converting those on the fence into ardent admirers. 

Speaking of scarcity and urgency, a great Valentine’s Day marketing strategy is to create limited-edition product (or service) lines that are only available for a short time.  

This way, you inspire your customers with the perfect gift and offer exclusive products they would not be able to access at other times of the year, further incentivising their purchase. 

Bad Romance: Brand Break Ups 

We’ve talked about how you might be able to build on existing relationships and gain new customers with savvy promotional tactics this Valentine’s Day. But what about when consumers break up with brands? Sometimes brands get it oh so wrong and fail to tap into the huge opportunity Valentine’s Day offers. 

Why do consumers break up with brands?  

CX Network references a Coveo Service Relevance Report that revealed that  4,000 customers across the US and UK (76, %)  said they would drop a brand or service provider after three negative experiences – up to three per cent when compared with the 2021 version of the same survey.  

When it comes to a special event or occasion, like Valentine’s Day, perhaps one negative experience will be enough for a consumer to decide never to engage with a brand again – especially if that disappointment is felt by the loved one, they are hoping to treat or impress with a Valentine’s gift.  

1800 Flowers, a US-based gift retailer, failed to deliver hundreds of orders and provided sub-par gifts, leaving many hearts broken. Not only this, but they failed to respond to customer complaints promptly. So, customers took to social media to express their dissatisfaction, exacerbating the reputational damage.  

It all comes down to trust. Consumers trust that you will deliver in terms of quality of service or product, communication, and brand values. Get this right and your brand can enjoy long term, fruitful relationships with your customer base.  

According to research by Adobe, 71% of customers in the UK are likely to stop purchasing from a brand that breaks their trust, indicating a huge risk to businesses if they fail to live up to their promises and customers’ expectations. 

One of the top reasons why customers say they ceased buying from a brand was due to ‘creepy’ data practices. 

Revolut gave us a masterclass in how to appear creepy, un-inclusive, and lose customer trust all in one with its 2019 Valentine’s Day campaign 

Billboards on the London Underground, not only single-shamed people who were ordering takeaways for one but raised questions about the bank’s ethics in collating and publishing data about its customer purchases. 

Closing thoughts: Valentine’s Day Promotions 

Like any holiday, Valentine’s Day offers brands a short but valuable window to build on existing customer loyalty and gain new customers.  

Deployed effectively, finely tuned promotional activity can help your brand stand out in a marketplace crammed with competitors trying to turn consumer’s heads and gain their love. 

Get in touch, and let’s talk about your next stand out marketing promotion that can help foster consumer love – new and old.