For some, Valentine’s Day is the golden opportunity to express your love to your significant other. For companies, it’s a time to roll out the love tours, overpriced flowers and cheesy romantic ads. For a lot of us, Valentine’s Day has become a stale and superficial commercialization of romance. Today, there are a lot of singles and couples who are growing increasingly cynical, viewing the festival as both overrated and rhetorical.

Studies have highlighted significant downsides to celebrating the ritualized festival. So what does this mean for Valentine’s Day and brands who bank on the holiday?

Here’s what brands and the community need to know about the reality of Valentine’s day today:

1. It promotes superficial expectations
The original idea behind Valentine’s love is great. Today, marketing has turned the celebration of love into the celebration of gifts and grand dinings. Brands are at the fore of depicting romance in a superficial light; as a result, this has shaped material focus on gifts and luxuries. The significant problem arises when young people start associating love and romance with gifts and grand gestures.

The whole culture of Valentine’s Day has become far removed from the reality of being in relationships. Instead, it highlights only the best, positive aspects of being in love. One study found individuals who held positive expectations were more likely to face disappointment and dysfunction in relationships, as opposed to couples who entered relationships with realistic expectations.

2. Ruins relationships
With couples who are already in relationships however, seeing and hearing about others’ relationships in celebration of Valentine’s makes it difficult to avoid comparing. Especially on social media where couples’ Valentine’s celebrations are embellished and glorified, conscious (or subconscious) unhealthy comparisons can cause dissatisfactions in relationships. That is to say, idealization of ‘perfect’ relationships can create unnecessary issues and unrealistic, unhealthy comparisons amongst couples.

Valentine’s Day also presents another huge problem in relationships. According to Fader (2015), “bottling up all of our love for one special day doesn’t allow us to practice the daily things, like gratitude and affirmations that make relationships thrive. More often than not, partners may use extravagant dinners and gifts as band-aids for chronic relationship issues”.

Furthermore, Valentine’s Day values have placed romance on a pedestal over other kinds of love (love for friends, brothers, or self). Being in love is wonderful, but emphasis on romance commonly excludes those in love with friends, downplays importance of self-love, or love for the common man.

Moving forward, a lot of people hope to see a refreshing take on love that isn’t just focused on romance.

3. Yet another commercialized festivity
Valentine’s Day is far removed from history and its original intent. It’s only up to about a few hundred years ago did industries start to commercialize it by selling us romance through cards, flowers, candy and other fancy goods, raking in billions of dollars.

… and people are able to see through the blatant commercialization of love (Close & Zinkhan, 2007).

“Valentine’s Day should be called flower companies ‘Maximum Profit Day’”.

“It’s a cheesy marketing strategy companies bank on to force you to spend money to prove love to your partner”.

“It’s a marketing scam restaurants, spas, greeting card, and flower companies use to make sure you let your partner know you care about what matters!”.

4. It’s created market resistance
Perhaps more notably, Valentine’s day has created its own form of market-resistance, a form of anti-consumption where various individuals or groups no longer engage in common marketplace behaviors and rituals associated with Valentine’s (Cross & Zinkhan, 2007).

Specifically, modern attitudes toward Valentine’s has created:

Gift resistance. Specific individuals are choosing not to purchase chocolates, flowers and cards on Valentine’s Day, “flowers are now 3 times the price and for what? What if I wanna buy my dying grandma some flowers on Valentine’s day?”. – Jon, 29

Retail resistance, where consumers choose not to patronize certain stores. “Once I had dinner on valentine’s and the bill was Rm 1000. Wtf?!” – IT, 28.  “Valentine’s dinner sucks because there’s always some tacky preset menu that’s overpriced” – Johan, 31.

Led to alternative consumption. In lieu of Valentine’s trends, consumers today often create alternative/complementary rituals and traditions in addition to conventional Valentine’s activities. For example one study found 43% of women choose to celebrate in alternative, low-key ways such as staying home and watching a movie instead of dining at an upscale restaurant or exchanging verbal compliments instead of store-bought cards.

5. What does this mean for brands?
High commercialization and aggrandization of superficial romance has given rise to a new demographic of consumers who are growing increasingly cynical toward conventional Valentine’s Day marketing. With increased aversion to purchase Valentine’s goods, it would be refreshing to see brands cater to the new ways couples want to celebrate love today. Yes, this means no more overpriced flowers, cards and fancy dinner menus.

More importantly, it’s due time people start seeing love shown in all its forms in a realistic and healthy light.

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Close, A. G., & Zinkhan, G. M. (2009). Market-resistance and Valentine’s Day events. Journal of Business Research62(2), 200-207.

Fader, J. (2015). How Valentine’s Day Is Ruining RelationshipsPsychology Today. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from

How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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