How far should retailers go to grab our attention on Valentine’s Day?

All women really want from their loved one on Valentine’s Day is a kiss, according to a survey by insurance firm AXA, which reveals that a peck on the cheek will be the most sought after ‘gift’ on Friday.

lucy tesseras

But where does that leave the jewellers, florists and sellers of all things chocolate? Well luckily for them, despite Brits claiming that all they want is a bit of affection we still spend hundreds of millions of pounds of goodies for our other half on Valentine’s Day each year.

But retailers are having to work a little harder to grab our attention, particularly as the more cynical among us continue to slam the sickly-sweet sentiment and commercial nature of the day.

So, while most retailers have been gently nudging anything vaguely romantic in our direction since the tinsel came down after Christmas, others like Ann Summers have taken a more direct approach in a bid to steal consumer attention.

In what may be one of the least loving Valentine’s Day marketing moves, the saucy retailer projected messages such as “chocolates are for hospitals” and “nice cards are for mantelpieces” onto Thorntons’ and Cards Galore’s shop fronts last weekend.

The message “Happy Ann Summers Day” was also emblazoned across competitors’ windows, which goes some way to verify what cynics have been saying all along – that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a money-making ruse.

It’s certainly a bold move and one that I’m sure raised a few angry eyebrows, but at least the retailer tried something different, which if nothing else will get it noticed (even if it isn’t quite in the spirit of the day).

Sadly for Ann Summers, though, just 34 per cent of women taking part in the AXA survey actually want frilly knickers from a loved one. Although that doesn’t stop 43 per cent of men buying them, so there is hope yet.

I personally don’t have a problem with Valentine’s Day. I don’t expect to be lavished with diamonds or flowers and I certainly wouldn’t want a life-size teddy bear with a heart permanently attached to its gigantic paws, but there’s nothing wrong with a little romance every now and again. There is, however, something to be said for subtlety.

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