Valentine’s Day is full of promise

A day that rings the bell of a new season almost here – it's worth thinking about merchandising the most romantic day of the year

Close up shot of man and woman toasting and drinking red wine from glasses on dinner

Sniff the air – and be honest, now: don’t you think you can just catch the fresh aroma of oncoming Spring on the cool February breeze?

When Valentine’s Day arrives at the mid-point of the month (except for a Leap Year, although even then it is still 50 per cent precisely in the middle of February), it sends a clear message to all the people whose sap has been low during the dark cold winter months. Life is about to begin again, and that means we think about the future … and that means we think about love.

More exactly, Valentine’s Day is about devotion and commitment. The ancient origin of the story is in Rome, with the execution of a Christian – no reason given and probably none required – whose name, it is recalled, was Valentine. Before his death, he managed to smuggle out from his dungeon a note to his beloved: “I am your Valentine” it read. The significance of the story is that it mixes religious devotion (Valentine dying for his Christian beliefs) with romantic devotion, equating them or even preferencing love for the lucky (or rather, unlucky) lady.

Such is the implied supernatural power of Valentine’s Day on February 14. And though the story begins as a masculine self-sacrifice on the altar of love, today it is equally possible for women to express their passion for a loved one – or for anybody they adore of any sex or gender, regardless of pronouns.

In that sense, Valentine’s Day has never had it so good, and retailers should pay attention to merchandising the occasion, because there is extra revenue to be had across a variety of categories, as gifts are given, and evenings celebrated with liquor and fine food – increasingly at home instead of out at a restaurant.

Wine and spirits, quality branded groceries and freshly cooked food-to-go meals for the main course, as it were, surrounded and adorned with fancy chocs, flowers and greetings cards predominantly pink and covered with hearts and cupids – all of these can experience a romantic bump in sales.

Stock up on chocs!

Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International gives some best practice merchandising and sales advice to drive Valentine’s Day sales  

  • Seasonal convenience confectionery shoppers have a £12.50 higher spend per visit, so consider building creative displays and eye-catching signage to make occasions unmissable in-store with a strong promotion communication.
  • Stock the best sellers
  • Over 50 per cent of shoppers buy chocolates and flowers together, therefore highlighting these in store can drive trade-up
  • Some recommended must stocks are Cadbury’s sharing pouches such as Cadbury Dairy Milk Classics and Cadbury Roses, with the Cadbury Heroes pouch achieving the #1 SKU in Grocery

Wooing the customer

Along with flowers and a nice bottle of something, Chocs are the traditional and failsafe Valentine’s jade, and Susan Nash spoke to Asian Trader about what exactly was the thing to buy for your loved one this year.

“Confectionery is suitable as a main gift or to complement bigger gifts, so it’s important to stock a wide range,” she explained. “With gifting confectionery sales growing in independent and symbol store as more shoppers shop local, there has never been a better time to review your range and pricing from affordable gifts to premium offers.”

Susan says that more affluent shoppers naturally spend more and are also inclined to splash out on seasonal confectionery – with the segment in very good health at 21 per cent year-on-year growth – so retailers should be sure to stock premium products for occasions such Valentine’s and also Mother’s Day (coming soon!) to trade-up customers.

For example, Green & Black’s, the premium organic chocolate brand, has announced a new addition to its Organic tablets range: Smooth, in delicious Plain 50 per cent Cocoa and Mint flavours, which are now available.

“The new range as been specially developed to deliver a smoother mouthfeel and taste experience to dark chocolate lovers, as well as attract new consumers who have historically found dark chocolate too bitter,” Susan explains, highlighting the continuing trend towards the darker end of the choc spectrum (although not all the way to the hobbyist and health fan’s 90 per cent-plus!)

“Retailers should stock up on the new variants in the Green & Black’s Organic Smooth chocolate range and sell it alongside the rest of their Green & Black’s Organic tablets to strengthen the dark chocolate proposition to shoppers by appealing to all taste preferences. As the third biggest flavour within chocolate, retailers should site the Mint flavour strategically to help appeal to shoppers looking to trade up to the Premium category.”

Via stomach to heart

The range of ingredients, ready meals and hot food-to go meals offered by convenience retailers expands impressively every year, and the option for couples to celebrate at home together with a Valentine’s Day meal catered for via the c-channel is increasingly possible.

Italian food consistently ranks as the most romantic option for food lovers. Whether that’s due to the passion and creativity of the people from which it descends, or the beauty of the landscapes from which it originates – nothing is more romantic than a sumptuous meal inspired by la bella Italia.

Now available is the Seggiano product range, using only non-GMO ingredients of provenance, with no industrial additives and minimal heat processing.

Seggiano began when David and Peri met in Roma Ciampino Airport in 1985 and discovered a common passion for holistic wellbeing, sustainable agriculture and Italian food.

Within a few years, they produced their first small batch of premium Seggiano Lunaio Extra Virgin Olive Oil on their Southern Tuscan farm, and began searching the country for other specialist producers who shared their enthusiasm for real, artisanal Italian food.

As the company points out, with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis everyone’s budget is increasingly squeezed this Valentine’s Day, so why not try making a hearty meal at home out of handpicked ingredients sourced directly from Italy for your other half?

To follow a delicious dish of pasta, cheese and wine is a classic pairing, an age-old combination hailed as a marriage made in heaven and an indulgent way to end any romantic meal for two. The selection of Seggiano cheeseboard essentials means that a few simple ingredients can be gifted to a loved one as part of a beautiful package of Valentine’s celebrations.

Among the available items are:

Classic Handmade Flatbreads (£4.70) – Handmade in the Piemonte region, these super thin vegan crispy crackers add a gorgeous texture synergy to your creamier cheese and chutneys.

Organic Buckwheat Digestive Biscuits (£4.60) – These delicious organic wholegrain buckwheat biccys are minimally sweet with unrefined natural sugars, bringing a gorgeously deep and crunchy pairing to any cheeseboard all the way from Puglia.

Baked Fig Ball (£6.50) – Sweet, soft Dottato figs are slow-baked, shaped by hand and wrapped in fig leaves to form a Calabrian specialty – pair with soft dolce pecorino cheese for a marriage made in heaven.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes in Extra Virgin (£7.75) – Soft and delicious cherry tomatoes preserved in extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with garlic, sea salt and oregano these are irresistibly sweet and made with all natural ingredients.

If you are thinking of greeting Valentine’s Day shoppers with an extra twist to your deli offering, these SKUs could be perfect. You could even say “olive you” with a heart-shaped cheese/chopping board (£23.90) – made from genuine olive wood from tree renewal pruning practices in Tuscany, with some of the wood used more than 300 years old, making each board entirely unique.

And for dessert, Seggiano can mix treating with gifting:

  • Chocolate Lovers Gift Box (£21.70) – A special gift box made up of Seggiano’s tantalising Smooth Hazelnut & Cacao, Smooth Dark Chocolate and Crunchy Hazelnut Cacao spreads. Organic, vegan, gluten-free, GMO and palm oil free – what’s not to love?
  • Sea Salt & Chocolate Biscuits (£6.00) – Handmade for Seggiano by a family-run bakery, these classic country biscuits are a delicious, sweet treat to enjoy as an after-dinner sugar fix or as an afternoon tea staple.
  • Chocolate Cherry Figs (£10.50) – A simple Calabrian tradition of naturally dried fruit dipped in dark chocolate for a delightful vegan, gluten-free snack to satisfy sugar cravings.
  • Chocolate & Orange Cantuccini (£6.00) – A classy flavour combo brings together rich dark chocolate with the light, aromatic zest of oranges to form these delicious classic Italian biscuits, sourced from a family bakery in Tuscany.

    Chocolate & Orange Cantuccini Biscuits

BIRA shoots an arrow of love!

We are pleased to report that the  British Independent Retailers Association has launched a campaign to show some love for the high street.

The association, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, has put together its “Show Some Love’ campaign and is encouraging retailers to get involved.

The campaign has been designed to support retailers get involved in Valentine’s Day, which is the first seasonal event on the calendar, and encourage customers to shop locally both in-store and online.

Participants, who have to be a member of BIRA, will have access to a bundle of resources and information to help them encourage customers into their stores and to their websites, from social media posts, posters, and a free guide on how to market to your customers.

“We known that 2023 is going to be a tough year, which is why we want to offer extra support to our indies,” said BIRA CEO Andrew Goodacre. “Valentine’s Day is our first important date for retailers on the new year’s calendar, so this campaign will help support them market themselves more effectively than ever.”

The campaign will also be further supported by BIRA with the campaign tag #BiraShowSomeLove which will also help further boost social media reach and coverage in each retailers area.