Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

For millennials, who value authenticity above almost anything else, craving real relationships and interactions, Valentine’s Day seems a little too fake and manufactured. The day is also all about consumerism, something else they don’t enjoy, says Rogerwilco’s Michelle Jones.

Numerous surveys, says Jones, show that far from finding the romance in Valentine’s Day, many millennials avoid leaving the house at all on February 14. They don’t appreciate the expense associated with it – many are struggling financially, with personal debt and student loans to pay off. While they’re happy to spend their disposable income on their loved ones, they don’t want to be forced into doing it just because it’s a specific day.

There is no doubt that Valentine’s Day is associated with a certain amount of pressure, which makes it unappealing for some people. Millennials, Jones points out, know their partners are likely to feel compelled to post romantic selfies or photos of their Valentine’s gifts on social media channels. “But what if they don’t post pics? Then of course it means you are the worst boyfriend/ girlfriend ever,” she says.

This is a group that prefers to be left to do its own thing. A meaningful handwritten note or home-cooked meal is far more likely to be at the top of millennials’ wish list than the plethora of Valentine’s Day paraphernalia available in retail outlets around this time of year. It’s interesting to note, says Jones, that millennials still plan to celebrate the day. But it’s unlikely to be in the form of a traditional romantic dinner; it will rather be a quiet one at home, or even a celebration with friends or family as opposed to a planned Valentine’s event or meal at a restaurant.

For marketers, this means appealing to the desire of this market to spend the day a little differently, making it about more than just the romantic love between two people and rather a celebration of family and friends, Jones suggests. She says millennials are far more likely to respond to gift options that go beyond the typical hearts and flowers associated with Valentine’s Day – presents that fall more in line with their appreciation of homemade gifts, home-cooked meals and DIY-styled gatherings.

Jones says the antipathy of millennials is not only centred on Valentine’s Day, but relates to any occasion where they are  “forced” to celebrate – even Mother’s Day and Father’s Day fall in this category. “They’re far more spontaneous and likely to spoil a loved one ‘just because’ on any random day. Marketers need to find new ways to engage with millennials, rather than focusing on commercialised days that really don’t mean much to them.”

The big take-out: Millennials don’t buy into Valentine’s Day, or any other day where they feel they are forced to celebrate a particular commercialised concept.

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