Leading up to February 14, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that the average man would spend close to double his female counterpart on Valentine’s Day. Those numbers break down to $126.03 for men and $85.76 for women. The good news for affiliates is that this number is 8.5 percent higher than last year’s average expenditure of $116.21.
More specifically, NRF predicted that the $17 billion that was expected to be spent this Valentine’s Day would break down like this:
- Jewelry: $4.1 billion
- Entertainment: $3.5 billion
- Flowers: $1.8 billion
- Candy: $1.5 billion
- Clothing: $1.4 billion
- Gift cards: $1.1 billion
Beauty And Jewelry Buyers Thought Ahead
In the coming days and weeks we’ll see more concrete data on just how sweet Valentine’s Day proved to be for e-commerce as a whole and more specifically for the affiliate channel. Yet early signs from the affiliate space indicate that the NRF’s pre-holiday estimates align with e-commerce Valentine’s Day trends. A slice of the current Valentine’s Day data shows:
- Shoppers began to think about Valentine’s Day earlier in 2012 than previous years with purchases in flowers, jewelry and beauty increasing sharply — even as early as the 5th of February.
- There was a 401 percent increase in online jewelry sales on February 6 in comparison with January 30.
- Beauty sales increased 143 percent on February 8 compared to February 1.
- Flowers showed a steady increase in sales all month.
Not surprising is the rise in flower sales as we inched closer to the holiday. In fact, flower sales continued to rise over the weekend prior to Valentine’s Day. In contrast, beauty and jewelry sales plateaued or even decreased over the same weekend. Based on this data, you can infer that beauty and jewelry sales were planned and executed far more in advance than flower purchases.
What Can We Learn?
While Valentine’s Day 2012 is in the rear view mirror, there are some valuable affiliate marketing lessons that can be learned here. More importantly, the lessons learned from Valentine’s Day can be applied to Mother’s Day promotions. This point rings especially true when you consider that yet again a significant amount of Mother’s Day purchases will be made by men. Further, Mother’s Day gifts are traditionally similar to items purchased for Valentine’s Day.
Here are five strategies that enabled advertisers and publishers to maximize online sales on Valentine’s Day that can also be applied to the short yet lucrative upcoming Mother’s Day shopping season.
- Adjust your website and marketing copy to reflect different shopper types. Studies and surveys show that men and women shop differently. For a closer look at general online shopping habits and differentiators between the sexes, here’s an infographic that captures the different online shopping habits between men and women.The takeaway here is that if you’re appealing to male shoppers and your website primarily accommodates female shoppers, you may want to consider some changes or additions to reflect a different buying audience at certain times of the year. More specifically, this includes banners, marketing copy and your promotional strategy.In some instances, it makes sense to split your website and direct visitors to a specific path based on the type of shopper they are.For example, the online jewelry site Ice changed its front page this past Valentine’s Day season to address different shopping types and different relationship types. For the first time, the Ice site was specifically spit for male and female buyers. Additionally, it directed shoppers to three different relationship status categories: New Relationship, Truly Committed, and Tie the Knot. You can see how applying this proven approach can help you better plan for Mother’s Day. For example, you can segment your website based on a shopper’s search for mother, mother-in-law, wife, and daughter. The key here is to streamline the decision and purchasing process in alignment with the shopping habits of your buying audience.
- Reach out to a broader base of publishers. To attract the male buying audience during the Mother’s Day shopping season, expand your publisher reach to include male-oriented websites. Look closely at demographics and write copy that specifically appeals to the mindset of this audience.
- Prepare earlier. The data proves that online “holiday” shopping is beginning earlier. This applies to Valentine’s Day and also speaks to online sales trends that kick off in November in time for the traditional holiday shopping season. This year, Mother’s Day falls on May 13. This means advertisers and publishers should look to have their promotions ready to go by no later than the last week of April. For Valentine’s Day, consider enforcing your own deadline of late January.
- Advertisers: Create great offers specific to the affiliate channel. Since online searches are the first place shoppers look before they make purchasing decisions, advertisers should develop compelling and unique offers that are specifically geared toward publishers.
- Publishers: Can easily score points with advertisers and boost commissions through simple actions such as using current banners and tracking the effectiveness of ads and acting accordingly to make the most of the short sales runways presented by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
As e-commerce continues to evolve and present more opportunities to the affiliate channel, we’re all learning more about shopping patterns and trends specific to upcoming holidays. If we take a closer look at this relevant data and apply best practices and lessons learned, both advertisers and publishers could uncover new opportunities.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.