How Valentine’s Day Impacts Consumer Behavior

Pattern Data Science

February 3, 2022

Two years ago, Valentine’s Day marked the last major American Holiday before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the way we celebrate the biggest days of the year. Mere weeks after millions of Americans were out enjoying their usual romantic dinner of February 14th, restaurants around the country were shutting down and Americans were sheltering in place.

According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day 2021 saw big drops in the percentage of Americans planning on going out, and/or planning on buying a gift for the holiday. Although many did report they were planning on a nice romantic evening in.

Nearly 2 years after the start of the pandemic, with Valentine’s Day 2022 approaching, we wanted to dig into our data to learn more about how the pandemic might have impacted online demand for certain go-to gifts. Did fewer people going out result in more people shopping for online gifts?

If so, which types got the biggest bump? And how are things looking as we head into 2022? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Which types of Valentine’s Day gifts experienced the most online demand in 2021?

When it’s time to shop for your loved one on Valentine’s Day, there’s obviously countless types of gifts of every size, shape, and price point. But to keep things simple for this analysis, we decided to analyze some common search terms when it comes to online shopping for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s how demand for those terms stacked up during the week before Valentine’s Day last year:

There’s nobody who doesn’t like chocolate and candy come Valentine’s Day, so it’s no surprise that the two terms were the top two during the week before Valentine’s Day last year.

The rest of the top five—rose, candles, and flower–all saw similar levels of demand—although if you combine “flowers” and “flower” together, they’d see enough demand to edge out chocolate for the top overall term on the list.

Of course, this view shows us which items see the most overall demand, but it’s perhaps just as important to know which ones get the biggest Valentine’s Day bounce. So, we next compared demand for each category during the week before Valentine’s Day to the average weekly demand throughout the entire year:

Here we see that it’s Teddy Bears that actually receive the biggest Valentine’s Day boost, with demand increasing by a whopping 151% during the week before the holiday.

Lingerie and chocolate also got huge boosts, seeing demand more than double compared to the typical week during the rest of the year.

As you can see, every single item in our analysis gets at least a minor bump during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, strengthening the notion that the holiday drives big business even online.

To underscore just how big Valentine’s Day is for these types of items, here’s a look at weekly demand for all the items in our analysis combined:

While these types of items are also popular during Mother’s Day and the Holidays, there’s no bigger week of the year for them than Valentine’s Day.

Now let’s take the same view for some of the individual items in our analysis.

There’s simply no bigger week of the year for chocolates than Valentine’s Day. Easter and Mother’s Day certainly move the needle, and most of the month of December saw people buying plenty of chocolate, but they all pale in comparison to the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

But, as we saw in the list above, the holiday is even bigger for Teddy Bears:

Demand starts to spike sharply in mid-January, reaching near double the weekly average during the week of Jan 31-Feb 6, and then peaking at 151% during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

The rest of the year sees almost no interest in Teddy Bears, with only the holidays bringing weekly demand above the annual average.

It’s a similar story for lingerie, which saw a similar steep ramp up in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, only to plummet immediately after. After mid-March, only the week before Halloween saw demand rise above the annual average.

Finally, here’s a combined look at the next three items that received the largest Valentine’s Day boost:

Roses got their biggest bump of the year during the week before Valentine’s Day, edging out Mother’s Day. Candy, meanwhile, also got its biggest single-week increase during Valentine’s Day, although October and December’s sustained increases make those Holidays a much larger driver of candy sales overall.

As for flowers, Valentine’s Day was good for the second largest week of the year, but Mother’s Day reigns supreme, tripling the boost in demand we saw over Valentine’s Day.

How has COVID-19 impacted online demand for Valentine’s Day gifts?

It’s clear that a lot of people went online to buy gifts for Valentine’s Day last year, but how did it compare to previous years? Did COVID-19 mean more people turned to online shopping to make the holiday more romantic? And if so, did some categories benefit more than others?

To find out we started by comparing demand during the week before Valentine’s Day in 2021 to that in 2020.

Demand for slippers was up 61% year-over-year in 2021, suggesting that the pandemic perhaps saw a record number of people looking to share comfy at-home gifts this year, especially when compared to last year’s pre-pandemic Valentine’s Day.

Candles saw demand up by 34% compared to 2020, perhaps due to the increase in people deciding to spend the night making a homemade candlelit dinner as opposed to going out to a fancy restaurant.

Interestingly, every item in our analysis saw demand rise during the week before Valentine’s Day in 2021 when compared to 2020 except for roses, which saw basically no year-over-year change.

To better understand how COVID-19 may have impacted demand on each of these items, let’s take an even closer look at a few.

A closer look at slippers reveals that Valentine’s Day doesn’t really appear to move the needle for this item in either year. However, it’s clear that COVID-19 did impact online demand for a new pair of slippers. Demand rose in the weeks following the initial lockdowns in March of 2020 as millions of Americans adjusted to a new work-from-home schedule where wearing slippers to a meeting became the new normal.

Once again, online demand for chocolate is clearly impacted by Valentine’s Day, both in 2020 and in 2021. Interestingly 2021 saw smaller increases in demand during Easter and Christmas compared to 2020, but there’s little doubt that the pandemic had more people turn to online shopping for all their chocolate needs on Valentine’s Day last year.

Like with slippers, the year-over-year increase in demand for candles seems to be more of a reflection of people purely buying more candles since the pandemic began.

Although there was a slight bump in demand during the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day in 2021, it would seem that there were enough couples who decided to opt for an at-home candlelit dinner in the face of restricted in-person dining to move the needle at least a little bit.

Online demand for lingerie appears to have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Year-over-year demand was up big in January 2021, and got even bigger as Valentine’s Day approached.

This particular increase may have been more a result of a general shift to online shopping over in-person shopping during the pandemic as opposed to people being extra eager to buy lingerie last Valentine’s Day, but it’s difficult to say for certain.

A lesson for brands

After a closer look at each category, it’s clear that the pandemic has altered the way Americans shop online for Valentine’s Day. As we approach Valentine’s Day 2022, it’s difficult to say which of these trends will continue, and which might look entirely different.

Will more shoppers than ever be heading online to buy chocolates and roses? Are people eager to buy some new lingerie and book reservations for a fancy night out, or this be the year we see a huge surge in demand for candles and another cozy evening in?

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, get a consultation today.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 26, 2022

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.

Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces. 

Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.

So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.

Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.

Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services. 

2. Proven Results

It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.

4. Network of Resources

The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces. 

With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.

Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.