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Valentines Day and Consumer Meanings: Implications for Retail Strategy Angeline Grace Close The University of Georgia.

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Presentation on theme: "Valentines Day and Consumer Meanings: Implications for Retail Strategy Angeline Grace Close The University of Georgia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Valentines Day and Consumer Meanings: Implications for Retail Strategy Angeline Grace Close The University of Georgia

2 Val Retailing Study In Brief Multi-method study of a unique holiday as celebrated by adults in the U.S. Investigate this holiday from the perspectives of different segments of consumers From the consumer studies, complex and deeply- rooted meanings are thought to underlie the buyer behavior associated with this holiday. Also explore the holiday from the viewpoints of retail managers and executives who strategize around Valentines Day Retail executives state specific interest in understanding consumer-ascribed meanings with respect to how they may link to more successful retailing and e-tailing decisions

3 Consider this Markets Challenges… Valentines Day is a unique challenge for our company. It is more than any other holiday a late buying season. The bulk of our sales come three days before the holiday. And its right after Christmas. People are tired, broke, and headed six weeks later with having to give another gift to their spouse. It provides some unique challenges that we dont get on for example, Mothers Day or even at Christmas. We do get some thinking of you sales, but love is the biggest thing that people try to communicate for Valentines. Its a huge deal for us. [Interview with Retail Executive, 2005]

4 A Retail Challenge On the surface, retailers may often portray Valentines Day as a simple holiday Yet, buyers may attribute a wide variety of rituals, meanings, and commercial efforts to this holiday/purchases. Rituals seem to constantly evolve along with the holiday & technology New traditions and retail practices emerge each year (e.g., e-cards; speed dating) to add to its emerging complexity

5 A Holiday of Extremes? Individuals may have high levels of affect or love for this day Various segments of consumers may not particularly like it Market resistance- some individuals or groups exude various degrees of resistance from hesitance to boycotts of the holiday, may be well-suited to this market Retail resistance to select retailers that are associated with the holiday (e.g., Hallmark)

6 Study Justification Purchases & gift exchange for this holiday are a socio-culturally significant practice. May be a latent cultural tension and resistance around this holiday Economic significance- U.S. will spent $17.6 Billion in 2012 – up 8.5% over 2011 (National Retail Federation) Up-and-coming, expanding, retail holiday Some insights generated may be generalizable to other gift-oriented holidays

7 Hand To provide a more holistic study of Valentines Day from: a) consumer, & b) retailer points-of-view & to provide grounded managerial recommendations & theoretical advancements

8 Research ?s RQ1: What does the Valentines holiday mean to consumers (i.e., identifying implications for retailers and e-tailers)? RQ2: What are the best ways for retailers and e-tailers to shape consumer expectations and experiences related to this holiday (i.e., to cater to the Valentines Day holiday)?

9 Why Feb. 14 th ? St. Valentines death ~290 A.D. Churchs efforts to Christianize the pagan Lupercalia festival Pope Gelasius declared St. Valentines Day~ 498 A.D. & outlawed the Roman lottery system Beginning of birds mating season

10 History 300 B.C., pagans enacted lottery dating 290 A.D. St. Valentine performed Christian marriages against the states command He was beheaded on February 14 th He inspired a consumer ritual with his note to his loved one signed, from your Valentine This historical event is now a lucrative retailing holiday

11 Holiday Characteristics Today Some characteristics apply to other holidays (distinctive products, foods/drinks, celebrations, recognition, leisure, consumption, gift exchange, festivities, hint of excitement combined with a bit of anxiety) An intimate holiday No strong religious associations

12 The oldest known valentine... written in 1415 poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned during the Battle of Agincourt. Still in existence today part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London

13 Technology & the Valentine Handwritten letters (1700s) Mass-produced printed cards ( 1840) Customized card retail booths (1990s) E-cards or Virtual Valentines ( ) Mobile: smartphones and tablets (2011/12) 80% increase in mobile dating ad interaction (2011) 47% of targeted mobile ads were local (2011) 54% of tablet owners and 40% of smarphone owners intend to use devices for research/purchase (2012)

14 Val Market Overview (2012) National Retail Federation Intentions Survey Jewelry $4.1 Billion (from $3.5 Billion in 2011) $3.5 Billion - evening out. $1.8 Billion – flowers $1.5 Billion – candy $1.4 Billion – clothing $1.1 Billion – cards $367 Million for pets

15 Apps, Ads and Social Media fun facts 2012 Valentine's Day app for iPad unwraps 14 love- themed apps Mobile is the new frontier for condom ads. 76% of Social Media Moms would give up Facebook over sex.

16 Review of Key Literature Gift Exchange in Romantic Relationships (Huang and Yu 2000;Belk and Coon 1993) Pure Gifts, Altruism and Obligation (Arnould, Price and Zinkhan 2004; Polonsky et al. 2000; Otnes, Ruth and Milbourne 1994) Planned Purchases and Procrastination (Netemeyer, Andrews and Durvasula 1993)

17 Broadening the Lens Past research focuses on male perspectives & behaviors (cf. Otnes, Ruth & Milbourne 1994; Polonsky et al. 2000) Non-romantic & alternative relationships B2C, B2B, C2C (e.g., shoppers relationships with products, brands, websites, and retailers/e-tailers)

18 MethodSampleFocus Managerial Interviews [R]* (n=18) -Corporate Marketing & Retail Executives -Managers of Retail Establishments -Individual and Chain Stores -National Sample In-store aspects, targeting, positioning, pricing & promotional strategy Observations/ Fieldwork [O] (n=41) -In store/virtual store -Retail Employees & Shoppers -Valentines Gift Givers -Males and Females -Various Ages -Various Relationship Statuses Interaction with various managers, employees, and shoppers on the week o f and on Valentines Days & observatory field notes Survey [S] (n=198) -College students -Males and Females -Age Currently in a romantic relationship Gift expectations, purchase motivations, timing, actual purchase behavior, comfort level & spending level, open-ended comments Consumer Diaries [D] (n=149) -Males and Females -Ages Various Relationship Statuses Cultural rituals, gender roles, enjoyment factor, marketing & retail associations, comparison to other holidays Online/ e- Diaries*** [E] (n=47) -Posters to online diaries & boards -Males and Females -Various ages -Various relationship status Naturalistic consumer thought Group Interviews [G] (n=6) -College students -Females -Age Currently in a romantic relationship Rituals, meanings, traditions, purchases, meanings behind purchases & us-gifts

19 Data Analysis Quantative data- correlations, crosstabs, Qualitative data-iterative analysis via RQs & extant themes Axial, open, and selective coding Reveal emergent patterns & themes (Wolcott 1990). Focus on themes of retail importance or theory advancement Use suggested approaches (Spiggle 1994) to increase validity & reliability (e.g., multiple methods, triangulated data) Bracket introspective notes Follow up with individuals & present the completed study to retail executives for their feedback

20 FINDINGS RQ1: What does the Valentines holiday mean to consumers (i.e., identifying implications for retailers and e- tailers)?

21 Key Findings: Togetherness, Affection & Love Actions for Retail Strategy -Sex as a gift -Consumers celebrate more than romantic relationship -Common day for proposals & marriages -Feature products that enhance intimacy/ sexual experiences -Recognize other themes beyond romance -Promote the holiday for familial & friend-based love -Recognize alternative romantic relationships -Feature wedding & honeymoon associated merchandise -Provide more extravagant goods for dual celebrators

22 Key Findings: Altruistic Gifts Actions for Retail Strategy -Selflessness from men & women -Giving shifts with relationship stage -Some gifts are for the couple -Women in new relationships prepare their body for the holiday -Recognize female gift givers also -Promote sparking up older relationships with gifts & retail-based exchanges -Feature & promote gifts for the couple Us Gifts -Feature & promote beauty, health & exercise products

23 Key Findings: Opportunities Actions for Retail Strategy -Heightened opportunities for romantic pursuit -More dating -Singles seek other singles company -Singles see opportunity to self-gift -Feelings of excitement -Temporary confidence- booster -Opportunity to enact gender roles -Foster opportunities to pursue romantic interests with retailed gifts -Feature secret admirer goods -Hold/sponsor dating parties & events -Have gift registries for singles (analogous to wedding registries) -Enhance excitement with promotions -Offer retail promotions that involve consumers with their excitement -Partner with e-dating sites or speed-dating events in the area -Reinforce gender roles with marketing messages and goods

24 Key Findings: Guiltless Competition & Consumption Actions for Retail Strategy -Gift competition & one- upmanship occurs -Consumers display their retail box or bag, luxury brands & gift(s) -Receiving the gift in public is important -Consumer pride exists -A day of guiltless consumption -Spending more on the gift recipient to diminish guilt -Females are supposed to be pampered -Carry & promote luxurious brands -Make the box or bag worthy for consumers to display -Feature gifts that can be delivered to or used at the workplace or other public environment -Provide a vast selection of original and quality gifts and packaging options that the consumer will be proud to give/receive -Consumer vice goods are in increased demand from these consumers -A challenge for retailers when the good can not replace/ make-up for the source of the guilt -Provide products and services that pamper females of all ages and relationships

25 Key Findings: Expectations Actions for Retail Strategy -High expectations from women -High expectations from those in a new relationship -Expectations for an experiential & lasting gift -Consumers expect thoughtful gifts -Men do expect gifts -Men confused about what is expected -Dual celebrations heighten expectations -Childhood shaping -Feature vast selections for female gifts -Feature gifts/cards appropriate for new relationships -Offer a gift that keeps on giving -Find ways to personalize or customize gifts -Make it easier for women to find male- oriented gifts -Suggest appropriate gifts for various recipients -Feature lavish products for dual celebrations -Treat this day as a holiday for all ages

26 Key Findings: Obligation & Spending Actions for Retail Strategy -Males overwhelmingly feel obligated to give -Females to a lesser extent -Obligation to give is high in new relationships -Gift(s) unnecessary to continue estab. relationship -Relationship Investing -Gift misinterpretation fear -Most in a romantic relationship do purchase a gift(s) -Spending is often procrastinated -Remind consumers that their obligation is approaching -Reinstate importance of giving gifts to males -Feature gifts appropriate for new romantic relationships -Promote value of celebrating the holiday/gift exchange for adding passion, pursuit & excitement to a relationship -Embed long-term relationship into the good -Encourage giving cards to express -Consumers fulfill their perceived obligations with purchases -Consumers spend over and beyond feelings of obligation -Provide gift wrapping options for last- minute buyers -Allow for quick shopping -Expand the retailing season

27 Key Findings: Market & Retail Resistance Actions for Retail Strategy -There is a substantial anti-Valentines segment -Males are not the only ones with resistance -Love should not be reserved for this day -Society interprets it incorrectly -The holiday is tainted by capitalism -Celebrated in the private sphere -Select industries & companies own the holiday -Include those who are unhappily single, apart from their loved one, or unhappy -Include satirical or humorous approach -Recognize that not all females welcome this day -Incorporate themes of love and human relationships during other times of the year -Incorporate the human component as much as the product/material representation -Private consumption lends purchases at grocery stores, movie/music rentals -Cater to consumers desires of Voluntary Simplicity -Promote the idea that consumers and their relationships own this holiday

28 FINDINGS RQ2: What are the best methods for retailers and e-tailers to use (in order to shape consumer expectations and experiences) for this holiday?

29 Implications 1) e-tail 2) handling the last-minute holiday 3) inventory and product offerings 4) atmospherics and in-store displays 5) advertising and integrated marketing communications (IMC) 6) pricing 7) value added strategies

30 Limitations & Future Research Cross-cultural research Children Price Promotions Test propositions emerged from our study

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