Valentine’s ‘Red Weekend’ heralds the rise of the thoughtful romantic

In this Article

Getting cultural

Tech over teddy bears

Last minute lovers

Tech, travel and art replace the traditional teddy bear as shoppers shed Valentine’s clichés.

Valentine’s Day has come to represent one of the biggest retail milestones of the year, with the UK alone spending £1.6 billion on the event in 2016.

And new data from eBay Advertising has revealed that the weekend before Valentine’s Day – which eBay has dubbed the UK’s ‘Red Weekend’ – is peak browsing time for Valentine’s gifts.

eBay Advertising’s insights also show that brands and sellers need to think outside the box when targeting consumers, who are increasingly turning away from stereotypical presents and embracing more thoughtful gifts in categories such as art, travel and tech.

This is an opportunity as well as a challenge, giving a more diverse range of brands than ever before a chance to capture Valentine’s spend.

The Red Weekend

Over 2016’s Red Weekend (5th – 7th February), searches by men for “handbag” rose by a quarter, while interest in “perfume” grew by 28% over the period, as many male shoppers stuck to traditional, crowd-pleasing gifts.

But a significant group of UK shoppers are shedding the Valentine’s cliché, and instead seeking more thoughtful gifts for their loved ones, which is good news for brands and sellers in sectors that haven’t always felt the benefit of Valentine’s shopping.

Cultural gifts have become particularly popular; over last year’s Red Weekend, searches in eBay’s Art category rose by 60%, while interest in the Tickets category jumped by 57%. In addition, searches in the Travel and Books categories increased by 55% and 39%, respectively, giving brands in a wide range of categories an opportunity to appeal to shoppers with aspirational, thought-provoking messages.

Tech over teddy bears

Even the timeless teddy bear has been overtaken in the Valentine’s stakes by more hobby-focussed items. Although there was a 20% surge in searches for the classic stuffed toy over last year’s Red Weekend, there was a more significant increase in interest for bigger ticket tech items, pointing to an evolution in Valentine’s gifting. 

Searches for iPads rose by almost a third (31%) over the weekend, while interest in cameras was up by almost a quarter (23%). Men were the most likely to be recipients of new tech items on Valentine’s Day, with searches for “iPad” rising 44% amongst women.

Last minute lovers

In the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, women were making 85% more searches for generic Valentine’s items than men, suggesting female shoppers remained more attached to traditional gifts. 

Men, on the other hand, appear to turn to more conventional gifts at the last minute, even when items are unlikely to arrive in time. As the clock ticked to midnight on 14th February 2016, men’s searches for the broad term “Valentine’s” rocketed by 174% as they scrambled to find an eleventh hour gift. 

Whether they’re leaving it late or lacking in inspiration, male shoppers’ gifting habits may account for the huge 183% spike in searches for “handbags,” and 56% rise in searches for “perfume” by women on the afternoon of Valentine’s Day itself. 

In fact, women made 53% more searches for handbags than at the same time the previous day, as they treated themselves to the gifts that didn’t materialise, demonstrating that brands need to think laterally about different drivers of Valentine’s shopping (or self-gifting) even after the day itself.

Rob Bassett, UK Sales Director (Hard Goods) at eBay understands that Valentine’s Day has always been an established highlight of the retail calendar, but thinks the way people shop for the event is continually evolving, in line with broader consumer trends.

He says, “Brands and sellers need to be able to segment Valentine’s shoppers and target them with the messaging most relevant to their motivation, whether they’re after old fashioned romance or something more unique. As our data shows, a huge range of sellers – some of whom who might not have historically associated themselves with Valentine’s Day shopping - need to manage their inventory to capitalise on consumer interest.”

Valentine’s Day may have traditionally been flowers and chocolates territory, but like all areas of retail, consumers are increasingly looking to put a personal stamp on how they shop. Brands that are able to use online to tap into this spirit of individualism and engage a broad scope of shoppers, stand to grab share of wallet from competitors.
Pauline Robson, Director, MediaCom