In case all of the red candy packages adorning the front of convenience and grocery stores hasn't clued you in already, Valentine's Day is mere days away.
For retailers, February 14 is a welcome revenue-driver. In 2015, the National Retail Federation projected U.S. consumer V-Day spending to reach almost $19 billion. Yes. BILLION.
For gift givers and recipients, however, the holiday can feel more like a high-stakes relationship test than a celebration of love.
As we get closer and closer to the big day, tensions rise as we rack our brains for the perfect gift. The pressure is on. When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, what separates the delightful from the duds?
Don’t worry, using our choice visualization and analytics software, we asked 276 gift givers and 173 gift recipients what really matters when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts – all so we can demystify the gift giving process for you.
So, if you’re one of the 83% of shoppers that buy their gift the week prior or the 18% that associate Valentine’s Day with feelings of anxiety, this is for you! (Don’t be like the 8% that wait to shop until Valentine’s Day! I’m looking at you, hubby.)
War of the Roses: When Men and Women’s Gift Priorities Diverge...
We’ve all been well trained from a young age that a good Valentine’s Day present should demonstrate our tender feelings for our loved one. The gift (or gesture) should also illustrate how well we know our significant other.
In fact, the data supports this cliché. For both gift givers and receivers, the most important factors of a Valentine’s Day gift was that it was thoughtful and that it demonstrates knowledge of personal preferences.
These top two were followed closely by gifts that are sentimental, take time and effort, or show a spark of creativity. Of least importance to both givers and receivers are gifts that are "brag-worthy," traditional, or expensive.
We also found that giving a gift with certain qualities matters more depending on the giver's gender. For instance, 88% of male gift givers think it's important for a Valentine’s Day present to be sentimental, compared to 75% of female givers. Further debunking typical gender stereotypes, male gift givers are 22% more likely to prioritize romantic gifts while female gift givers are 17% more likely to emphasize practicality.
What Women Really Want (Hint: anything but a gift card)
Interestingly enough, 92% of gift givers reported they are confident that they know what their significant other wants for Valentine’s Day. But do they?
For better or worse, the rise of Valentine's Day as a commercial holiday has been marketed largely to women, often portraying men as the more clueless, less romantic party.
However, we found that male gift givers (blue) and female recipients (red) actually share fairly similar values when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts.
Men’s gift giving priorities align almost perfectly with women’s gift receiving priorities, with just minor nuances. Male gift givers are actually more likely to look for romantic gifts (83%) than women are to want them (62%). Gift creativity is also a bigger priority for male givers (79%) than female recipients (60%).
Gift Giving 101
Based on these factors, gift givers and gift receivers also ranked some popular gift options. (In other words, if you haven’t bought your significant other something already, pay attention to this.)
While “diamonds may be a girl's best friend�? is a popular stereotype, the data clearly shows that unique or personal gifts hold more appeal than jewelry, which is associated more with being traditional and expensive.
Two iconic Valentine's Day gifts – chocolate and flowers – both rank poorly in terms of demonstrating an understanding of the recipient's personal preferences and requiring time or effort from the giver. (Flowers, however, do win points for being sentimental and romantic – so, a dozen roses may have a slight edge over those Godiva truffles.)
One thing came across loud and clear: Gift cards are NOT a good idea for a significant other on Valentine’s Day. While a simple Valentine's Day cards was at least considered to be thoughtful, sentimental, and romantic, an Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift card screams "practical" and “thought of you at Walgreen’s�? more than anything else. In fact, 37% of women flat-out said they would not appreciate a gift card at all.
Relationship Status Matters
Aside from gender, relationship status also shapes both givers' and receivers' Valentine's Day perceptions.
Compared to married folks, respondents who are in a new relationship place more importance on gifts that are sentimental, romantic, and take time and effort. In fact, 81% of recipients in new relationships think it's important to get a creative gift, compared to only 57% of married respondents. Instead (and not surprisingly), married gift recipients placed a higher importance on the gift demonstrating their spouse's knowledge of their personal preferences.
Dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Hinge have inspired a new type of relationship status. We were surprised to learn that 20% of respondents who use these services would give Valentine’s Day gifts to an online “match.�? Among this audience, sentimentality was the top-ranked gift quality, followed closely by thoughtfulness.
Women: High Hopes, Low Expectations
We also asked women which gifts they'd most appreciate on Valentine's Day… and which they think they'll actually receive.
Not surprising, unique and handmade presents are most likely to make ladies' hearts sing. Though almost all women would welcome something special or customized, sadly just 31% expect they'll receive anything of the sort. Fortunately, men seem to be more attuned than their female counterparts expect: 64% told us that they plan to give a unique or personal gift.
Though 81% of female recipients would appreciate jewelry, only 26% think they're likely to be presented with a blue or velvet box this Valentine's Day. These expectations align well with reality: less than 20% of men plan to jewelry to their significant other.
So what are people likely to get for Valentine’s Day? Here’s what shoppers (men AND women) are planning:
Whether you're male or female, in a new relationship or a decades-long marriage, it's easy to get caught up in the Valentine's Day shopping frenzy. But don’t forget that it’s the thought that counts... and we have data to prove it!