1. Hearts and shopping carts: Physical or virtual?

Research carried out in early 2023 suggests that whilst the top shopping destination for Valentine’s is online, many consumers are heading back into physical stores to pick up their gifts. Not only that, but recipients are no longer just romantic – consumers also plan to buy for pets, co-workers, friends, classmates and teachers. In recent years, we’ve also seen Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X purchasing more Valentine’s gifts online, in comparison to older generations who more commonly opt for the in-store experience.

From digital gift guides, like this one from John Lewis, to purchasing a traditional bouquet of red roses from a local florist, both physical and virtual shopping experiences have their benefits and drawbacks and appeal to different audiences looking to find the perfect tailored gift for someone special.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

2. Love bytes: Tech is shaping the V-Day shopping experience

Speaking of tech, let’s talk about the role of it in shaping the Valentine’s Day shopping experience. AR, AI, virtual try-ons and interactive social media campaigns have become cupid’s arrows for retailers looking to engage their audience.

Take Cadbury Silk – with its ‘The Story of Us’ campaign. After scanning a QR code on Cadbury Silk packs, customers are taken to a website where they are asked a series of questions about their unique love story. AI then creates personalised avatars and a unique animated movie for each couple. Check it out.

3. Experience the romance: Creating unforgettable moments

From pop-up shops to immersive installations, there’s lots of innovative ways to turn your physical store into a destination that not only sells products but also weaves love stories through experiential events. This is exactly what The Perfume Shop did this year.

Just last weekend, The Perfume Shop opened an immersive pop-up shop in London for its ‘It Started with a Spritz’ campaign. Customers were invited to engage with interactive scented hearts, claw machines with fragrance prizes to be won, and discover The Perfume Shop’s top fragrances ahead of Valentine’s Day. Special guests also attended, including Anna Williamson from ‘Celebs Go Dating’ (dating expert and broadcaster) who offered customers relationship advice and information on how fragrance can often make you more attracted to someone.

Click the image below to find out how it went.

Source: @ThePerfumeShop (Instagram)

So, what does this mean for retail brands?

Whether you’re a believer in Valentines or see it as a cynical ploy to fuel further spending, creating personal, unique experiences – with a liberal dusting of tech fairy dust – are becoming an essential component for retailers. It’s why we developed Blue Square X – a specialist team who go above and beyond to inject the ‘X’ into experiences from retailer engagement, direct to consumer and everything in between.

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