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Valentine’s Day Celebration: It’s Mixed Feelings Amongst Nigerian Consumers

By Abiodun Obisesan
13 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
DESPITE the eventual postponement of the presidential election by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, from February 14 to March 28, consumers, shopaholics and particularly the male demography of the Nigerian population, who are the major actors in the lovers’ shopping spree, have partly adduced the highly charged political…

Valentine

DESPITE the eventual postponement of the presidential election by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, from February 14 to March 28, consumers, shopaholics and particularly the male demography of the Nigerian population, who are the major actors in the lovers’ shopping spree, have partly adduced the highly charged political scene, volatility of the oil market, unsteady election timetable and other unfavourable conditions for their lacklustre disposition towards today’s valentine rave.

  Since February 14, 269 AD when the Emperor Claudius-led Roman Empire sentenced Valentine, a Catholic priest, to death for conducting secret weddings, his death has been commemorated in so many countries across the world as St. Valentine’s Day. Presently, St. Valentine’s Day has grown to become a big business and shopping window. It is indeed regarded by many as the “second largest card sending holiday of the year,” after Christmas.

  Over the years, Valentine’s Day has evolved and expanded through aggressive marketing strategy, with men and women in the Western world scurrying to make holiday bookings or buy flowers and gifts for their loved ones. According to the 2013 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey presented by US-based Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average annual Valentine’s Day spending last year was around $13.19 billion while the number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged was valued at $180 million. Average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day is $196 million; revenue of domestically cut flowers in the United States alone was given as $403 million, while annual revenue from jewellery stores for the period was $2.2 billion.

  As love birds don their red colour outfit, which is regarded as the official colour brand, and do Shakespeare’s bidding of spicing love with music in celebrating the heroics of St. Valentine this weekend, it is expected that from cinemas to cakes shops, hotels, resort centres, aviation sector to quick service restaurants (QSR), brand owners and marketing buffs would unleash several marketing strategy through discount offer, campaigns and promotions to lure customers through this growing marketing window. According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year. 

  However, a visit to Shoprite, Ikeja, and Computer Village in Lagos to gauge the anticipatory mood and readiness for the Valentines’ day today revealed that shoppers and consumers alike were scanty and rather indifferent about the lover’s day rendezvous. 

  Mr Azubike Nnamdi, an employee with Multichoice, hinted that this year’s Valentines’ day would have been perfect but for INEC’s initial decision to fix the presidential election on February 14. 

  ‘‘I knew that this year’s election timetable was bound to take the shine off the Valentine’s Day.  On a lighter note, I would say that most men were happy at first that the presidential election date coincided with Val’s day; but with the postponement, there is no hiding place for us. For me, I have decided to do a low key Val celebration with my wife and children because of the uncertainty of the political scene. Even if they hold the election in March, I have decided to spend cautiously because you would never know what would happen then. I believe the election year and the heightened political situation are some reasons some Nigerians like me will not spend big this Val day.’’

  Another shopper, Mrs. Kate Adebayo, feels otherwise but accepted that buyers and consumers of Valentine-centred products may not go all out to shower gifts on their spouses.

  “It came as a sweet relief to the female folks when news filtered in that the election which was billed to hold on Val’s day had been postponed. I still expect my husband to spoil me with gifts, irrespective of issues surrounding the elections and the current political tension. I also know for a fact that online platforms would reap heavily from the orders which would be delivered to the doorstep of female spouses. Although, the whole election process and indecision have blighted the celebration, we would still go out and enjoy the day,” she noted. 

  Also, for a growing number of online retailers, Valentine’s Day is a key revenue driver. This is because consumers are purchasing lots of products as Valentine’s gifts.  Ranging from a standard gift selection of chocolates, roses and fine dining, brands will continue to expand their equity through various online marketing strategies. Hence, such online marketing platforms, like Konga, Jumia, Buyology and Dealdey, will benefit from the Valentine rave, as more Nigerians will deploy the e-commerce industry to advantage.

  Speaking on her expectations as the Val’s day is being celebrated today, Miss Sandra Omolara Davids, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), maintains that the fact that the lovers’ day coincided with an election date which was later reversed has watered down the celebration. 

 “I was not particularly excited when the date of the presidential election was postponed from Val’s day because already there is a lot of uncertainty about our state security and economy. About this time last year, my lover had showered me with several gifts and a trip to Dubai. However, in spite of this year’s weekend Val’s day, it has not been this same. Anyway, I intend to go out there and have fun,” she said.   

  Brand activations have also been fewer this year. However, brands like Close Up, PZ Cussons and GOtv have defied the odds by trying to bond with their teeming consumers during this season of love. In the spirit of today’s Valentine’s celebration, Close Up has launched a new campaign tagged Cupid Games to win over the youth market this season.

  The Cupid Games, which signed on A-list musical stars like Yemi Alade and Davido as campaign ambassador for the game, is expected to challenge young people to express themselves to loved ones without feeling timid.

  The grand prize winner will go home with a brand new MV Agusta Brutale 800cc power bike; second and third will get a pair of personalised Apple Mac Books and Ipads respectively. The Brand Building Director, Unilever Nigeria Plc, Mr. David Okeme, during the launch said Cupid game is an engagement platform by Close-Up for young adults to connect and show their loved ones how much they care, especially at Valentine.

  In a related move to bond with consumers, PZ Cussons, makers of Canoe Detergent Colour Mix Contest, is poised to reward its loyal consumers with boxes of chocolate, exquisite Da Viva materials, St. Lauren non-alcoholic wine and dinner for two at a choiced restaurant.