Roses are red, stereotypes are blue... is that the best you can do?

Charlotte is director of Retail and Shopper at leading independent full-service marketing agency Haygarth. Charlotte has over 10 years of experience working across pure retail clients as well as a core specialism in customer marketing for brands trying to achieve cut through, share of voice and sales in third party retail. She currently heads up accounts at Haygarth including Disney and Signet.

H.Samuel's Little Store of Love

We all know the story from a thousand bad sitcoms: man forgets Valentine’s Day, leaving him forced to present the love of his life with a bunch of flowers hastily procured from the garage. Cue canned laughter as he tries to stammer an explanation while she lets him know exactly what she thinks of him...

Well, unless he has spent the entire post-January sales period cocooned in a nuclear bunker, the chance of the average 21st century male forgetting Valentine’s Day is akin to him forgetting to put his trousers on in the morning. In today’s shopper-focused retail world, retailers simplify and signpost the gifting process to ensure today’s Don Juan gets it right with a suitable (and even professionally-wrapped!) solution. It’s hard to pass a retailer who offers any sort of gift without seeing the words ”Perfect for Valentine’s Day – Tuesday 14th February!” or “For the one you love” in foot-high (red) letters.

But Valentine’s Day retail marketing should go beyond paper hearts in the window and offering the Generic Gifting Solution For Men™. Where retailers can work harder is by helping male shoppers to make the right purchase decision. Gifts bought by men for Valentine’s Day are typically bought last minute, so the risk is they may buy in haste and choose convenience over that perfect gift.

It’s interesting to see some retailers taking much more of a disruptive approach to drive consideration for their gifting solutions over and above other categories and retailers. For example, Signet’s previous Valentine’s pop-up stores took their Valentine’s gift solutions to the male shopper to drive disruption and consideration for their retail brands – they made gifting both convenient and easy. The H. Samuel Little Store of Love was situated at Waterloo Station and the Ernest Jones Love Boutique at Paddington Station. The edited range helped shoppers shortcut choice with gifting options across multiple price points that allowed shoppers to say what they wanted to with a more meaningful gift.

Likewise, this year, Marks and Spencer have taken their gifting solutions out of store. They have created a Valentine’s Day billboard at Waterloo station which uses augmented reality technology to bring the model on the billboard to life! Once activated, she springs into action and showcases different sets of lingerie and rose bouquets to inspire the shopper.

So the learning is, to drive consideration for your store and your product, think about what you can do differently to engage the shopper. How can you get interaction with your product in a different way? For the male shopper specifically, consider his mind-state to create new and innovative ways to interact. Come on retail – we don’t all want a diamond as big as a rock for Valentine’s Day but a more considered and thoughtful gift would be great, so let’s help any misguided men get it right this year!

Here are my top four tips for retailers to help their male shopper make the perfect gift selection this year:

1. Be different and stand out – do something to disrupt

2. Break out of the traditional - what can you offer that is quirky, funny, creative, off the cuff and special, in a non-cheesy way?

3. Consider the consumer and the shopper – drive appeal of your product with the female consumer to drive action from the male shopper.

4. Embrace the last minute opportunity – make gifting easy and present options that are thoughtful, creative, beautifully packaged, and will suit several price points.

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