Love is one of the most powerful human emotions and has over the years been manipulated by retailers to get into people’s wallets.
Valentine’s Day, a supposed ‘love day’ the world over, has evolved into a million Pula industry where lovers are inundated with sales and specials of items to buy for their better halves. In 2018, the Unites States of America (USA) consumers spent an upwards of $19.6 billion.
Far from what it used to represent, historians tell that Valentine’s Day is a successor of the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia dating back to 300BC. “Every year between February 13 and February 15, the Romans engaged in celebrations and rituals to honor the coming of spring. One of these rituals involved sacrificing a dog or a goat and using its skin to whip women, an act that was believed to increase their fertility,” reads an excerpt from Teodora Zareva on thinkbig.com from February last year.
The tradition probably cost the romans just the one goat while today people actually budget and spend lavishly on their partners.
Modern history dictates that Valentine’s Day began showing its modern consumer-oriented manifestations around the 17th and 18th centuries where the aristocracy engaged in more sophisticated activities with elaborate displays of fashion and style. Expensive gifts were offered to selected people termed “Valentines”.
The phenomenon was exacerbated in the United States where an emerging consumer and popular culture, boosted by the influence of advertising, resulted with consumers also having to contend with a whole ‘Valentine Week’.
Seven days before February 14th where each has a special significance. Starting on February 7th, the days are Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day and Kiss Day.
Local entrepreneur Florist and Managing Director at Lillyville Flowers, Bonang Ketimilwe said the store got more business on 14th February 2019 than the previous year.
She attributed the success to extensive advertising which she conducted through social media and the distribution of flyers and business cards to existing and prospective clients.
Ketimilwe recorded an overwhelming three-fold growth in sales on the Valentine’s Day of compared to a normal business day.
“We spend close to P20, 000 on advertising and marketing over the past five years and it is paying off,” she stated, continuing that it’s a small budget compared to the paybacks it is giving.
Through advertising and marketing, the company has an extensive network of customers locally and as far as New York, Malaysia, China, Brazil and UK.
On the issue of retailers luring people to spend unnecessarily on a ‘bogus’ holiday to raise their proceeds, Ketimilwe noted that as a retailer, she has to find ways to get people to buy her products and pounce on any opportunity to make business.
According to Ketimilwe, Lillyville Flowers’ busiest day since the festive season was on Valentine’s Day as the shop closed well past the normal trading hours.
“Valentine’s Day is a Western phenomenon created to celebrate romantic love and my flower service offers the appropriate services,” she highlighted, adding that the day is important to lovers the world over and service providers such as her, have to be strategic to get business.
Though business blossomed on Thursday, she has realised that she could have made more money. She cautioned that people need to always have a budget for the things they want and advised that they should start planning for next year.
Yale Sociologist Jefferey Alexander believes that “rituals have always been an important part of human culture and can help renew a flagging sense of solidarity,” a saying that suggests that gift giving on Valentine’s Day is a practice that will most likely endure the test of time.