red roses

Valentine’s Day: a global retail opportunity

Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular global e-commerce dates in the year, is celebrated by purchasing gifts for your loved one. It is also a date when global retailers cash in on the power of love.

Total spending in the US is expected to reach $18.9 billion, a survey from the National Retail Federation states. While discount (35.2%) and department stores (36.5%) will be among the most visited locations for those looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, one-quarter of Valentine’s Day shoppers this year plan to make some portion of their purchases online.

Cultural Insights

Valentine’s Day has spread to each corner of the world and is thus celebrated with unique traditions from country to country.  Spending ranges from $274 per person in Asia down to $92 per person in Germany.

From Brazil to Japan, we take a look at how different cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day.

France is unsurprisingly home to Europe’s most traditional Valentine’s shoppers, who channel their spend into romantic luxuries with 85% of women wanting to receive a ring for Valentine’s Day

In Brazil, Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated on the 14th February, but rather the 12th June – Dia dos Namorados, which translates to “Lovers’ Day”. Retailers with an online presence in Brazil should be aware of this date as couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. Due to Valentine’s Day falling within Brazil’s carnival period it is usually not celebrated in February.

Taiwan: Western Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Taiwan alongside White Day on the 14th March and also Lunar Valentine’s Day on the 7th day of the 7th Lunar month.

In Thailand, 26% of people send their love letters by email

Germany shows the highest level of resistance to Valentine’s Day. Those who do buy gifts spend just £59 per person on average – Europe’s lowest love-splurge with 31% confessing to having forgotten Valentine’s Day

South Korea and Japan: It is customary for women to give chocolates to men, and even to co-workers on Valentine’s Day.  Called the obligation chocolate (giri-choko) it costs women on average £60 each. reports that spending can be 15% higher on White Day (March 14th), the answer day to Valentine’s Day, where men in Japan and South Korea purchase gifts as a return favour to women who gave chocolate to them in the preceding month.

USA: According to Rakuten, US shoppers plan high-end purchases in advance with a peak in jewellery sales on February 3rd compared to February 8th in the UK. Note to all online pet retailers – US consumers spend $367million on their pets for Valentines alone.

Denmark: The Danish take a less commercial approach, its population sends snowdrops, rather than bouquets of imported roses, and love notes signed in dots known as gaekkebrev – not via Facebook or text, but by hand.

Guatemala: Valentine’s Day is called El Dia del Carino in Guatemala, where the holiday is just as much about friendship and family as it is about romantic love. The exchanging of flowers and cards is also popular here.

India: In 2013, Valentine’s Day spending in India was estimated at INR 15 billion and is projected to grow 2% in 2015. Working men and women spend anywhere from INR 1,000 to INR 60,000, while students spend between INR 500 to INR 10,000.

International online marketing tips

As Valentine’s day approaches, retailers are reaching out to consumers via digital channels with the intent to increase online purchases. With one-quarter of Valentine’s Day shoppers planning to make some portion of their purchases online we share our top tips for making Valentine’s Day promotions your most effective yet;

Audit your website and investigate any potential issues that may arise should you receive a huge surge of visitors to your e-commerce site. According to Vanson Bourne research, 79 per cent of 590 global CIOs confirmed they are aware of seasonal events that drive web traffic, however, 44% do not test their websites to see if they could handle the increase in traffic.

Understand regional performance needs. Being able to test from various regions across multiple network types is important. Archie Roboostoff of Internet Retailer states…’capability to isolate a test that targets high traffic originating from one country or city, from a specific carrier type like 3G is important to increase end-user experience across all markets.’

Ensure your keywords in the run-up to Valentine’s include “free shipping”, “last minute” and “discounts”.

Shoppers should be allowed to easily share their favourite items on their local social network sites such as VK in Russia and Weibo in China leading to referral traffic

Make sure your mobile website and apps are ready to offer a great Valentine’s shopping experience. Merchants with apps should make use of push notifications alerting customers to special offers, early bird discounts and new stock specific to Valentine’s Day.

Shoppers can be impatient and demanding especially when panic buying. Did you know mobile shoppers do not wait more than 4 seconds for a page to load? Ensuring your site loads quickly and is device responsive is essential. Alison Lomax of Google states “Easier online ordering and faster delivery times are helping forgetful people and passionate procrastinators come out looking like smooth operators”. Brands should meet this demand with a strong mobile presence.

As the growth of mobile commerce continues to rise in India, smartphones will play a crucial role this year. It is expected that more than 50% of total Valentine’s Day sales in India will come from smartphones.

Some of the biggest opportunities in global e-commerce are campaigns centred on local events both traditional and newly emerging. With this in mind, Oban International launched a calendar that aims to uncover some of these hidden gems from around the world. Events that could help improve your understanding of global markets and provide inspiration for your global digital marketing campaigns.

Sources: AIS,, Cebr, IMRG, National Retail Federation,, Parship, Rakuten, National Retail Federation

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