Contrarian thoughts on Valentines and other abused days

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D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight

Valentines Day is almost upon us, what will you be doing on Thursday? Will you be giving or receiving cards, flowers and chocolates?

From a business and marketing point of view, Valentines day provides an important sales event between Christmas and Easter. It is long enough away from the first for January salaries or wages to cause many people to forget how much they spent. The second, is still far enough in the future that there will be another monthly salary or several weeks wages to take the worry out of spending for Easter.

The importance of Valentines day to retail sales is highlighted in this infographic from Warner Leisure Hotels.


Valentine's Day Infographic by Warner Leisure Hotels
This Valentine’s Day infographic was created by Warner Leisure Hotelsclick here to view the original blog post.

The infographic is using data from the UK market, but it shows just how big an impact Valentines Day can have on certain market categories for those brands and retailers that have a good strategy and employ the best event related tactics.

One of the dangers of being a baby boomer, is the tendency to automatically think,  and more dangerously, say, that things were different, better, worse, harder, more difficult, cheaper, safer, more dangerous or some other qualification when we were young. Sometimes we are correct, but we don’t generally get thanked by younger generations for the comparison.

For those of you who have moved to a totally different society later in life, as I have, you will also frequently be tempted to draw comparisons with the better or worse aspects of life in “The Old Country”. When the move was forced on you by the consequences of your new country’s (amongst others) actions years earlier, it is very easy for your comparisons to be tinged with bitterness.

The worse things seem in the new country, the easier it is for that bitterness to increase and poison your life. I find this is a recipe for gloom and despondency that has to be guarded against continually. It is especially easy for Sue and I to become miserable remembering the idyllic, warm Southern African climate when we are digging out from 12″ of snow in temperatures well below freezing as we were this past weekend.

The reason behind the previous three paragraphs is an excuse in advance for my opinion that all festive occasions now seem to be far more commercialised and elevated to greater heights than when I was younger and living on the other side of the world. That goes for both religious and secular holidays.

As a young boy, I can remember getting one big hollow, sweet (candy) filled Easter egg and one or two smaller ones. Even when my parents were comfortably well off (before they started farming) Christmas and Birthday presents were few and inexpensive. Christmas stockings were often filled out with presents that were useful, like socks and shirts, pens for school.

My own two boys were born in Rhodesia when sanctions meant that there were virtually no imported toys available for presents. Clothes and a few good but cheap and plain locally produced toys and sweets filled stockings.

Valentines Day was never a big event, we would only send cards and flowers to spouses or those who we were hoping would succumb to our romantic pursuits. We did not exchange cards, or flowers with sisters, mothers, cousins or just friends. It would have been suicidal for a man to send a Valentine card or worse, flowers to a friend’s wife or girlfiend.

Some bosses courted danger by giving some of their female employees flowers or chocolate. Dangerous for three reasons, signalling the wrong intentions, upsetting other staff and risking divorce or serious bodily harm if word got back to a wife.

I do remember in later years, the Valentines Day peak helping boost exports of South African and Zimbabwean flowers to Europe. Sadly an industry almost completely destroyed in Zimbabwe with the slack now picked up by Kenya and Ethiopia.

That last point means that the Valentines Day hype is as much, or more a geographical difference as a generational one. Is the increased commercialisation of festive occasions good or bad? My contrarian side tells me it is neither good or bad, it just is. It is good for sales, sales are good for jobs, jobs are good for communities and countries.

What ever the reason, if you are in business and can use Valentines Day to boost sales then go for it.

Holidays have become commercialised because we have let them. It is entirely within each of us whether we let it bother us or not. We do not have to buy into the hype, we can turn off the TV, ignore the newspaper, magazine and direct mail ads. Be more discerning about which sites we spend time surfing on the internet.

Millions of kids around the world survive very well without smart phones, tablets, HD tv, designer clothes or a diet of snacks and fast food.  A lot of them are healthier too.

I am lucky, I no longer have kids driven by peer pressure, continually whining for expensive new toys and stuff. If I did, I would use the same two letter answer I gave mine when they were younger, NO.

It is our choice how we respond to the Valentines Day and other, hype. It’s also our choice how we compare what we remember from our younger days, former towns or countries with our situation and experiences now. There is no question that in many ways the world was a better place in the middle and late 20th Century. Just as in other ways it is better now.

Some of the old values, standards and principles are worth fighting for, some are not. Some of the new ways of the world are worth embracing, some are not. We need to be bale to discern the difference, not blindly follow the herd.

Wishing you success,  truck loads of flowers, mail vans full of cards and tons of chocolates, on Valentines Day.

Peter Wright




p.s. I do not benefit by promoting Warner Leisure Hotels, just thought the infographic would be interesting to you.


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  2 comments for “Contrarian thoughts on Valentines and other abused days

  1. Roberta Hunter
    February 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Number 1…that is one beautiful rose.

    Number 2….love the info-graphic: Lots of fascinating facts.

    You are so correct about the over-hyping of everything these
    days. Sometimes it is way too much. Gets on my nerves some times.

    However, you summed it up perfectly at the end:

    “Some of the old values, standards and principles are worth
    fighting for, some are not. Some of the new ways of the world are worth
    embracing, some are not. We need to be bale to discern the difference, not
    blindly follow the herd.”

    And we [I] need to ignore the hyping and live my life by own
    my values no matter what others think or say.

  2. February 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you Roberta, I appreciate your thoughts.

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