Here’s to the morning of February 14 when, soon after the doors of the store are opened, hastily-dressed husbands and boyfriends, with panic in their eyes, dash inside on the hunt for flowers or chocs.
This year it is likely that Valentine’s Day will be freighted with more significance than ever before. It’s the first chance we have had since cancelled Christmas to at least try to celebrate something; it comes at the lowest point of the year, with winter well-worn but spring not quite yet on the horizon; it speaks of love and intimacy when all we’ve heard about for ages is social distancing; and it’s about new starts, promises and dedication to someone wonderful.
Strange to think that it all began with the judicial murder of a Christian in pagan Rome –– whose name, obviously was Valentine (or so they say). Before his execution, he managed to smuggle out a note to his beloved: “I am your Valentine” it said. She promptly hired a PR company and here we are.
(Cupid, by the way, is probably Mars, god of war!)
There are many good reasons to spare Valentine’s Day some shelf-space and perhaps even to merchandise the occasion a little, for some extra sales – and not just from the guilty and forgetful.
Let’s be honest: Most cards and gifts, despite all this modern day sex-equality stuff, are going to be going in one direction. There are certain ways, however, that a sweet tooth or a jaded palate can be catered to that will appeal to both sides of the romance.
Winning her (or him) over
Given that romantic candle-lit meals outside the home are still impossible (and we are not talking about the patio in February), and considering that many have been locked-up with their loved one for many months, a refreshing drink to celebrate might just be the thing that’s needed.
Nick Williamson, Marketing Director at Campari UK, has the perfect product to inspire Valentine’s Day happiness. “The Aperol Spritz is perfect for sharing this Valentine’s Day,” he advises. A stylish, light and refreshing cocktail, it also brings a touch of Italian elegance to celebrations, thanks to Aperol’s Venetian heritage. The UK’s bestselling branded cocktail adds effortless sparkle to a romantic evening at-home, whilst also offering a strong opportunity for retailers to increase basket spend.”
He says that to prepare for this occasion, retailers should stock up on a range of premium products to help encourage customers to ‘upgrade’ their Valentine’s Day basket. In-store merchandising such as creating a ‘Valentine’s Day bundle’ of simple cocktail ingredients or positioning Aperol alongside prosecco, soda water and oranges will help to smooth customers’ shopping experience. Cross-category merchandising; for example, positioning Aperol alongside olives and charcuterie, can inspire shoppers to bring a taste of Italy to their lockdown Valentine’s Day celebrations.
As Sweet as you are
If alcohol is not on the menu – if puppy love, for example, is the order of the day – then small, sweet gifts might prove the ideal enchantment.
Swizzels make the quintessential love-token candies, which are just the thing to display till-side for the occasion.
‘‘Valentine’s Day is a key spring occasion for convenience retailers to take full advantage of with their confectionery offering,” says Mark Walker, Sales Director, playing Cupid. “Sales have grown YOY, up +3% in 2020, and confectionery sales in Convenience were worth £63m in the 2 weeks leading up to the big day.
Swizzels has expanded its Originals range with price marked hanging bags of Love Hearts and Parma Violets, perfect for consumers to share with loved ones. The £1 PMPs come in a 142g hanging bag and they are both suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
But Swizzels’ number one Valentine’s confectionery product is its Love Hearts Tin. “Following the success of its emoji designs, there are two new designs for 2021 which continue to appeal to the younger consumer,” says Mark. “They contain 100g of mini Love Hearts rolls and are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
There is also the Love Hearts Gift Tube, filled with mini Love Hearts rolls and for a small, perhaps tentative gesture of love, would-be suitors can also purchase Giant Love Hearts rolls, featuring the more traditional messages as well as emojis, which are sure to attract consumers looking for a pick-me-up – or maybe a pick-up line.
And if the day looks like it’s going to be fizzing, don’t overlook the Love Hearts Dip, containing three different flavours of sherbet with a candy Love Hearts dipper.
Baked with love
Lastly, don’t forget your baked offering when it comes to Valentine’s goodies and check to see what’s on offer from your supplier for the big day, as innovation can pay of big time with impulse purchases. Birds Bakery, a family-run East Midlands’ craft baker, has had some great ideas, from heart shaped chocolates to shortbread biscuits – which are designed to help spread some happiness to those celebrating Valentine’s this lockdown year. Think biscuits and cup-cakes, which are still selling like … hot cakes, and if you go for heart decorations it’s likely you won’t go far wrong.
And if hearts don’t work, try a chocolate frog. She might just kiss it and find a chocolate prince.
RECIPE FOR APEROL SPRITZ
- Three parts Prosecco (75ml)
- Two parts Aperol (50ml)
- One part soda water (25ml)
- Orange slice
- Fill a large wine glass with ice
- Combine prosecco followed by Aperol
- Add a dash of soda and stir
- Garnish with a fresh orange slice