The whole world knows America splurges big-time on Valentine’s Day. Last year, the collective February 14th budget was pegged at $22 billion, just slightly lower than 2020’s total. But can this much money buy romance, let alone capture the day’s nuance?
To find out if love is still alive on the most romantic day of the year, we stopped counting cash and shifted the focus from quantity to quality. We asked 1,046 Americans all over the country about how they spend Valentine’s Day – what kind of dates, events, traditions and gifts make their hearts race. We also asked respondents to rate certain V-Day staples from 1-5 stars.
For Me? You Shouldn’t Have!
Siri, say, “I love you.”
Electronics was the winning gift across a wide range of demographic groups. Men 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 years old said they preferred tech presents. Women aged 25-34 and 35-44 also leaned toward gadgets and gizmos. But just as popular was a memorable experience for ladies 55-64 and 65+ years old.
Perhaps surprisingly, tech gifts seem to have replaced familiar romantic symbols such as flowers and jewelry. But that doesn’t mean it’s become easier to nail the right item for your spouse or beau – at least not in the digital age, where so many gifts come with a battery or charger. Out of the gazillion options, your choice of a no-name micro-USB or budget battery pack probably won’t make your lover swoon.
What makes this gift exchange harder is how some studies stressed the fact that our loved ones tend to read into the items they receive – it doesn’t matter if it’s an Apple Watch or a temperature-control smart mug.
Since most tech items aren’t exactly the epitome of romance, you might as well settle for a high-quality router (seriously!). It’s an unexpected gift that signals to the tech buff in your life that you, of all people, understand their need for uninterrupted streaming, gaming or virtual meetings. And these days, you should never underestimate the power of strong connectivity in keeping the passion alive.
XOXO, Your Secret Admirer
Planning to approach someone you secretly swoon over on V-Day? Learn the art of catching someone’s attention the right way. If the person you pine for is among the 61.8 percent who found secret admirers creepy, maybe doing things on their terms can change how they feel.
When it comes to being contacted by an anonymous worshiper, most men were fans of direct messages (DMs) on social media. Our male respondents rated “sliding into their DMs” highly, while a lot of women agreed a handwritten letter left in their mailbox would get them to pay attention.
The rise of online dating in the early 2010s helped popularize the digital phenomenon of social media DMs. But the fact that our male respondents chose this modern form of contact while women picked a more traditional route likely reflects the latter’s concerns about safety on online platforms. In 2020, the Pew Research Center reported that 53 percent of women feel dating sites and apps are not a safe way to meet people compared to 39 percent of men.
Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue …
Approximately $2 billion was spent on flowers on Valentine’s Day 2021. That’s equivalent to over 20 percent of the global flower trade. So, yes, the sweet gesture of sending bouquets isn’t going anywhere soon.
But if you want to amp things up this year, try purchasing flowers based on preferences by age. According to our survey, daisies are the No. 1 favorite among women aged 35-44 and 55-64. Roses are the top pick for the 18-24 crowd (that is, roses of any color BUT red) and 65+ years old, who still love classic red. Further, the 25-34 age group could be wooed with a potted orchid. And last but not least, Valentine’s Day-themed assorted flower arrangements are the top choice for the 45-54 age group.
Of course, this buying guide comes with a caveat: While this data may help you narrow your choices, you should still base your flower-buying decisions on your partner’s likes and dislikes.
Speaking of likes and dislikes, 69.9 percent of our respondents admitted they’re embarrassed by grand romantic displays fueled by February 14th fever. So here’s your reminder to go easy on sending a massive bouquet to your partner’s workplace.
Make or Break (Up)
It turns out the most romantic day of the year can also cause a lot of friction in relationships. About 43.1 percent of our respondents stated they’ve had a breakup ON Valentine’s Day, while 47.2 percent reported breaking up BECAUSE of Valentine’s Day.
In another study, people between 18 and 34 years old were the most likely to call it quits with their partner on this memorable day. But regardless of age, 45 percent agreed on breaking up before the day if a relationship was nearing its end. Among their reasons for doing so was not wanting to fake happiness or romance, spend money on gifts or receive one on the day.
Pics, or it didn’t happen!
For 73.2 percent of people, posting about their dates on social media was a big part of the whole experience. Meanwhile, 20.3 percent said it wasn’t necessary, and 6.5 percent would only post if the date were shareworthy.
Of course, let’s not forget the singles on this special day. Interestingly, an unprecedented 61.4 percent claimed they would feel happy for couples posting on social media if they were single on V-Day. Only 12.2 percent expressed that loneliness was what they’d feel. The rest would be sad, angry or devoid of any noticeable emotion.
Love Is All You Need
Regardless of age and gender, the vast majority of respondents – 93.5 percent – said they believe in Valentine’s Day. Awww! So perhaps it’s safe for us to say that February 14th still holds a special place in the hearts of many, deserving of its own rituals and routines like a family member’s birthday or a couple’s wedding anniversary.
But beyond the larger-than-life concepts of love and romance, it’s the little details that make this day memorable for different people: couples and singles, exes and secret admirers, those who prefer subtle and grand displays of affection. Each person celebrates the day on their own terms – but celebrate we do. In the end, it’s the freedom to shape the experience the way you want to that prevails.
We surveyed 1,046 Americans about their feelings towards Valentine’s Day. We utilized a convenience sampling method by using SurveyMonkey and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to collect responses and analyze the data using Tableau and Excel. Of our respondents, 6.91% were in the 18-24 age range, 47.97% in the 25-34 age range, 26.42% in the 35-44 age range, 6.76% in the 45-54 age range, 6.5% in the 55-64 age range and 2.44% of respondents were aged 65 or older. Additionally, 58.13% of our respondents were male, 41.46% female and 0.41% self-reported “other” as their gender.