UK consumers are set to spend big on cultural and experiential gifts for their loved ones in the run up to Valentine’s Day, according to new data from eBay Advertising. Highlighting a shift away from the more clichéd aspects of Q1’s biggest retail event, the data points to the return of more thoughtful romantic gifting. eBay Advertising has dubbed the weekend before 14th February - when Valentine’s shopping peaks – “Red Weekend.” Last year during this period the publisher registered huge surges of interest in less traditional categories, demonstrating a change in how the nation thinks about Valentine’s Day gifting. Searches in eBay’s Travel & Holidays category surged by 55%, while interest its Art category rose by 60%, as shoppers sought more unusual, imaginative gift ideas. In addition, interest in event tickets and books rose by 57% and 39%, respectively, giving a much broader range of brands the opportunity to compete for share of wallet. Even the humble teddy bear has been replaced in the hearts and minds of romantically inclined consumers with more practical, items. Although searches for the classic Valentine’s gift rose by 20% during Red Weekend last year, this was eclipsed by a 31% spike in searches for iPads and a jump of almost a quarter in searches for cameras on Rob Bassett, director of hard goods UK at eBay, said: “The UK is predicted to splash out more than £1 billion billion on Valentine’s Day, and brands need to understand where this spend is being directed if they are to capitalise on the huge opportunity on offer.” “Consumers are increasingly attracted to a more personalised, individual style of gifting and this has been reflected in the growing popularity of cultural gifts. This trend shows that it’s more important than ever that marketers can pinpoint and target different shopper motivations.” On the whole, women appear to be more attached to traditional gifts, making 85% more searches for the generic term “Valentine” than men during the two week period before Valentine’s Day last year. Men turn to these conventional types of gifts too, but it seems not until the very last minute. As the clock ticked to midnight on February 14th 2016, men’s searches for the broad term “Valentine” rocketed by 174%, as they scrambled to find an eleventh hour gift despite knowing it was unlikely to arrive in time. And those who don’t receive the kind of gift they’d hoped for are happy to take matters into their own hands. During the afternoon of Valentine’s Day itself last year, searches by women for handbags soared by 183%, while interest in perfume increased by 56%, demonstrating that brands still have a valuable opportunity to engage shoppers with self-gifting messages once the typical Valentine’s window is over. Pauline Robson, director at MediaCom, said: “Valentine’s Day may have traditionally been flowers and chocolates territory, but like all areas of retail, consumers are increasingly looking to put a personal stamp on how they shop.” “Brands that are able to use online to tap into this spirit of individualism and engage a broad scope of shoppers, stand to grab share of wallet from competitors and build loyalty by showing they understand how consumers think and what matters to them.” By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine
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