The tidal wave called Valentine’s Day has arrived yet again in a flurry of red hearts. And mushy lovers in the throes of dopamine are making a mad dash to pamper their sweethearts with gifts, unleashing cupid-induced chaos.

Yeah, it may be a little cheesy. But, Valentine’s Day is surely no joke for retailers as it tops the charts of the year’s highest grossing holidays, third to only Christmas and Mother’s Day.

How much is a Valentine worth?

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans will spend a total of $18.2 billion on their valentines this year. The amount is actually down from the estimated $19.7 billion that consumers spent last season. The lion’s share of that, at over $4 billion, will go towards jewelry alone, with another $2 billion on flowers. Consumers are also expected to spend on clothes, cards, and an overall nice evening out on Feb. 14.

The average individual spent $146.84 in 2016, while consumers are projected to spend an average $136.57 this year.


Source: NRF Valentine’s Day Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

It’s clear that consumers are being more frugal this year. Still, Feb 14 continues to be a popular gift-giving occasion and a lucrative holiday for businesses.

Here’s a quick look at the major trends surrounding this love-sick holiday and how retailers can leverage its full potential.

Major Retail Trends this Season

# Personalization is a Priority

When value is delivered in context, it feels right. Customers want brands to know them, remember them and make doing business fast and easy. Interactions must flow seamlessly as if they are part of an ongoing conversation, continuously improving with deeper customer knowledge and individualized engagements.

To pitch the exact fragrance that the customer abandoned while browsing the retailer’s site once s/he steps into the store- that’s context. To custom offer a matching belt to go with the lovely dress that he has just picked for his spouse- that’s context.

Such a short window of opportunity calls for razor sharp accuracy that speaks directly to each individual. By being quickly responsive sending a personalized message, retailers can better re-engage users at precisely the right moment and boost sales.

Not only do shoppers respond better to offers that are pertinent to them, they are also more receptive to local promotions that offer deals with businesses in their proximity. By using the geo-targeting feature in their mobile apps, retailers like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor are targeting guests who are close by and increasing conversions.

It is all about hitting the bull’s eye with Cupid’s arrow! And as one might expect, it is a sure shot way to win hearts and delight customers.

# Reaching out to Mobile-First Customers

Brick & Mortar still rules the roost for romantic shopping but more and more shoppers are using smartphones to share love on-the-go. In fact, half of smartphone or tablet owners use mobile devices to research information on products, prices and retailers as well as for redeeming coupons. Many customers also use their device for purchasing products online.  As much as 28 % of shoppers are reported to have found a gift for their loved ones from an online store, according to NRF.

The key to capture the attention of love struck digital natives is to optimize the customer interaction at every point in the purchase journey so that customers can connect with brands from anywhere, on any device, right when they need to.

Not only do retailers need to ensure that their offers are timely and pertinent, they also must deliver them through the optimal channels – both digital and physical. For instance, while deploying an email offer for that duffle bag with heart graphics which a customer left in his cart, it is important to make sure that the discount can be redeemed both online and in-store. This strategy can be complemented by mailing a print coupon as well, for maximum impact.

# Breaking Down Stereotypes

Valentine’s Day really should no longer be seen as a day exclusively for romantic partners. How people celebrate Valentine’s Day has changed over the years, according to recent Valentine’s Day stats released by Bing. It has now become a day when both couples as well as singles spend money to celebrate the love they have for the important people in their lives, including co-workers, friends, and even pets

In fact, Valentine’s Day treats for man’s four legged companions is now a $681 million industry.

What is interesting, and potentially key information for any retailer here is that they need to focus on the right demographics while prospecting.  As customers are shopping for individuals beyond just romantic partners, it is important to segment audiences the right way and carefully consider the messaging for the specific audiences being targeted. For instance, a flirty and playful assortment cannot be offered to a customer shopping for his children.

As in life, it’s often the small things that make a big impact for customers and remind them why they love a brand. By understanding what really matters to customers and helping them make the right choice, retailers can create a more meaningful relationship and avoid being dumped in favor of another passing brand.