Reaching Women and Men on Valentine’s Day: The Role of Brand Advocates



According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers will spend $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2019. In terms of overall individual transactions, candy and greeting cards rank one and two. However, in terms of overall dollar value of the purchases, jewelry and flowers lead the way. In these two leading categories, an increasing percentage of purchases are being made over the internet. A recent survey by Bankrate.com suggests some interesting demographic difference in Valentine’s Day purchases. Younger millennials spend more than their older millennial counterparts, couples who are together longer spend less than those together for a shorter period, and as one would expect, men spend more than women.

These types of demographic purchase patterns are an important first-level basis for segmentation. However, with an increasing percentage of purchases being made online in a highly competitive environment, marketers need to delve deeper and consider target brand advocates. New data from global data and targeting experts Acxiom is illustrative of how companies can take a deeper dive. I had the chance to interview Karen Caulfield, global vice president of data products at Acxiom who states, “Like consumers, marketers also want a frictionless experience when they set out to understand, build or select audiences for their marketing initiatives.”

The chart below shows an example of how marketers can use data to target based on propensity to give flowers vs. jewelry as well as how to target brand advocates.  Men are slightly more likely to give jewelry than women.  However, the data clearly shows that single consumers and those without children are considerably more likely to give jewelry than their married counterparts with children.  In addition, according to Caufield,  “The audience group likely to give jewelry also tends to be a little more mature. Yet perhaps surprisingly, they do not have a higher average income. The lesson here is don’t just trust your intuition – let the data lead you to the most appropriate audience.”  The implications for targeting advertising, especially in the internet environment are very straightforward here – data should be used to disproportionately target those with higher propensity to purchase in the product category you are selling.

A key issue in targeting for Valentine’s Day buyers is identifying brand advocates. As observed by Jay Baer, there is increasing evidence that “influencers” on social media are not trusted by a large majority of consumers. In contrast, 92% of consumers trust brand advocates, who are essentially influencers who are deeply loyal to the brand. Brand advocates are eager to receive new information on the brand and support and actively promote it. Brand Advocates can be thought of as consumers sending out Valentine’s Day cards on your behalf, distributing “I heart this Brand” candies to friends and family members; not just helping you to promote your brand, but instead actively driving action that results in purchases. As such, marketing dollars are often more efficiently spent targeting advocates as opposed to influencers.

If we compare those likely vs. unlikely to be advocates using data from Acxiom’s Audience Propensities™ from the universe of consumers planning to give jewelry for Valentine’s Day, it’s quite easy to see who should be targeted as brand advocates.   Younger, single and those with children in the home (either their own, or younger siblings, if still living at home), are more likely to be advocates.  Directing more marketing dollars to these groups to enhance both their experiences and their likelihood of sharing those experiences with others makes good sense.   Clearly, a data driven approach is the way to go.

Article written by: Charles Taylor



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