Last weekend, lovers across the globe celebrated the Valentine season with unique pomp and excitement. Despite the turbulent economic climate and the challenges of social distancing in this COVID-19 era, many “shopaholics” in Nigeria, particularly the male population in Lagos, who are the major actors in this annual lovers’ shopping jamboree, were in their best elements.
The docile ones partly adduced the strict COVID-19 guidelines, challenging security atmosphere, and tough economic situation for their lacklustre disposition towards last weekend’s valentine rave.
However, one can still notice the increasing involvement of brands, eateries, hotels and other business locations as they push various activations to grow their relevance in the mind of consumers. Compared with activities within this period in the last four or five years, it is obvious that this marketing window is indeed becoming more relevant.
While brands and businesses were busy exploiting the Christmas and New Year marketing windows massively, great opportunities during Valentine’s day were begging for exploitation virtually every year. Noticing this gap, it is remarkable that brands are increasing as many of them painted the city red.
Even politicians and political office holders are beginning to grab the valentine handle. Former Ekiti State Governor, Chief Segun Oni, used the window to urge Nigerians and Ekiti people to build a community of love and purpose, where selfless sacrifice would be the propelling hallmark of development.
Oni, in a personally signed Valentine’s Day message to the people of Ekiti, titled, ‘Let us a build a community of love and sacrifice’, made available on Sunday, urged the people to rededicate themselves to love, which he said could address the state’s challenges and unlock its limitless possibilities.
The former governor, who wished Ekiti people “Happy Valentine”, said, “On this special occasion of Valentine, and as we present our loved ones with candy, flowers, chocolates and such other lovely gifts, let us rededicate ourselves to the virtue of love which is the entire essence of creation and human existence.”
Going around major Nigerian cities revealed that so many churches, social groups and cultural associations had special events for couples with popular brands stepping in to sponsor some.
Since February 14, 269 AD when the Emperor Claudius-led Roman Empire sentenced Valentine, a Catholic priest, to death for conducting secret weddings, his death has been commemorated in so many countries across the world as St. Valentine’s Day. Presently, St. Valentine’s Day has grown to become a big business and shopping window. It is indeed regarded by many as the “second largest card sending holiday of the year,” after Christmas. Many analysts feel sales record puts it ahead of Easter.
Over the years, Valentine’s Day has evolved and expanded through aggressive marketing strategy, with men and women in the Western world scurrying to make holiday bookings or buy flowers and gifts for their loved ones. Although in countries like the UK and some states in America, the present lockdown has remarkably hampered celebrations. In other climes where some level of normalcy exists, it was celebration galore.
Valentine’s Day has always been big business globally. According to the 2018 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey presented by US-based Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average annual Valentine’s Day spending in the last few years was around $29.39 billion, while the number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged within the period was valued at $280 million. Average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day is $376 million; revenue of domestically cut flowers in the United States alone was given as $273 million, while annual revenue from jewelry stores for the period was $2.9 billion.
As love birds don their red colour outfit, which is regarded as the official Val colour, and do Shakespeare’s bidding of spicing love with music in celebrating the heroics of St. Valentine, the event just like previous ones has remained remarkably gorgeous even with the looming strict COVID-19 guidelines everyone must follow.
From cinemas to cake shops, hotels, resort centres, to quick service restaurants (QSR), brand owners and marketing buffs were unleashing several marketing strategies through discount offers, campaigns and promotions to lure customers through this growing marketing window. According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $27.3 billion in 2019.
However, a visit yesterday to Ikeja City Mall, and Protea Hotel in Lagos to gauge the mood of the Valentines’ day revealed that shoppers and consumers were not as “packed and loaded” as expected. Probably a reflection of the challenges of this period.
For the ever increasing number of online retailers in Lagos, Valentine’s Day has remained a key revenue driver. This is because many consumers are purchasing lots of products for Valentine’s gifts online. Ranging from a standard gift selection of chocolates, roses and fine dining, brands will continue to expand their equity through various online marketing strategies. Hence, such online marketing platforms, like Konga and Jumia, have benefited immensely from the Valentine rave, as more Nigerians deploy the e-commerce industry to their advantage.
Speaking on her perception of last Sunday’s Val day at the Ikeja Shopping Mall, Lagos, Miss Dumebi Osondu, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, maintained that this year’s lovers’ day celebration has been watered down by tough economic conditions and the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most people are particularly dislocated and troubled over our current situation today. Since last year March till now, the pandemic has turned everything upside down.
“In 2019, I celebrated my Val day with a trip to Dubai. Regrettably, this year’s Val day has not been the same. Anyway, I still need to make myself happy as I believe next year will be a lot better,” she said.