Do you hate Valentine’s Day? There’s a market for you too!

Lilly Calman doesn’t want flowers, chocolates or a romantic dinner for two this Valentine’s Day, especially after a recent breakup.

“I am very angry,” said Calman, 26, added that it was distressing to see all the party paraphernalia in the store aisles.

This year, she found a more fitting outlet for her mood: a fundraiser for the San Antonio Zoo, which will symbolically name a cockroach or rodent after an ex and feed it to one of the animals from the zoo.

“The visual image of him being devoured by a Komodo dragon is quite satisfying,” M saidme Calman, who donated US$25 for the rat option. She hopes the zoo will send her a video so she can arrange a screening with a friend. “I love reptiles. I think it’s cool. »

The annual campaign has raised more than $235,000 since the zoo launched it in 2020, highlighting the appeal of alternative Valentine’s Day rituals for people who aren’t interested in the couple side of things. » of the thing.

The tradition of Valentine’s Day stirs strong emotions, both for and against. Do you appreciate this lovely tradition? Or do you consider it a consumerist scam? Critics have criticized Valentine’s Day for maintaining a narrow model of heterosexual, monogamous relationships.

Tradition, inclusion and (business) opportunities

A majority of people in the United States plan to celebrate or mark the day in 2024, according to this year’s version of an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, an industry lobbying group.

However, these celebrations have expanded to include friends and family, pets and even oneself. Marketers are taking note and trying to find other ways to reach people who disagree.

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday that has evolved over time,” says Barbara Bickart, associate professor of marketing at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Marketers are finding ways to be more inclusive and sensitive.

Barbara Bickart, associate professor at Boston University

This year, for example, candy brand Sweethearts launched a “situations” edition with blurred writing for people whose relationship is not defined. The candies sold out quickly, said Evan Brock, vice president of marketing for Spangler Candy Co.

What to do on Valentine’s Day itself, when couples offering each other roses fill restaurant tables? For several years, Marco Di Pinto has been organizing a comedy show “Anti-Valentine” in London.

Comedians will encourage singles to tell their horror stories about dating and relationships. The couples will be – for pleasure – cooked. “I think this celebration is stupid,” he said. If we put on a show like this, maybe people will feel more included. »

João Pedro Santos, 41, has attended the comedy show in recent years – with his girlfriend. “It’s one of the things that brought us together,” he assured. This is about undermining the concept of Valentine’s Day. »

Think about yourself first

Dating-related spending still dominates the holiday season, but demographic data provides insight into a growing segment of the population. About 30% of Americans are single, according to a 2022 study by the Pew Research Center, and more than half of them say they’re not looking to date.

“Marketers who alienate entire groups of consumers are not only bad for society, but also bad for business in general,” said Angeline Close Scheinbaum, associate professor of marketing in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. from Clemson University.

“It’s a great time to communicate with people,” said Peter McGraw, a behavioral economist at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Solo: Building a Remarkable Life of Your Own, adding that companies could do more to meet the needs of a large group. He cited the spending frenzy on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on Nov. 11, a lucrative day for online shopping in China. “It’s so easy to do with your messaging. »

Even the personal care market, which has become a multi-billion dollar industry, now plays a role in this celebration. On Etsy, searches for “gifts for yourself” before Valentine’s Day increased 12% this year compared to last year, according to the company.

Learning to love yourself is a big undertaking right now.

Kim McCoy, speech therapist in Oregon

This year, after a breakup, Kim McCoy is taking the time to treat herself. She bought herself flowers and plans to attend an “ecstatic dance” event with a friend.

Naming a rat after her ex made Lilly Calman feel better, but it also allowed her to connect with her friends and family by telling a funny story. “Maybe platonic love is more important,” she said. I get to spend this day with people I love and care about, and doing things we enjoy. »

The marketing around this day may ultimately hide the truth about why this holiday has endured through time. “The reason for this day is pure,” said Scheinbaum. It’s about celebrating and recognizing love, and that will never go away. »

This article was originally published in the New York Times.

Read the original article (in English; paid subscription required)


Leave a Comment