Every year Valentine’s day sees people purchase heart-adorned cards, boxes of chocolate, and bouquets of red roses. The 14 February event is heavily commercialised with retailers competing to entice men and women to buy gifts, flowers and cards. In value terms, British consumers spend more than £500m a year on Valentine’s Day, The Independent has reported

We were interested to check how universal the event is by running a steer to estimate what proportion of the working age population intend to celebrate it this year. As we wanted to obtain a result which was representative for the UK, we applied the national representativeness condition (NatRep) on our single answer steer, and asked consumers whether they would celebrate Valentine’s day:

Nearly 63% of our consumer community confirmed that they will celebrate Valentine’s day in some form, a result covering all age and gender segments in proportions consistent with the statistics from the last Census. This highlights significant profit potential for retailers and brands.

Confectionery, cards and roses aside, cosmetics offer lucrative opportunities for retailers. Soaps, bath bombs and competitively-priced skin care items are attractive for gifting, and natural cosmetics manufacturer and high-street chain Lush is prepared to take advantage. Its new Valentine’s Day collection includes limited editions of funky products, specifically referencing the event by colours, shapes and naming.

To get feedback on these items, we addressed steers to Lush customers specifically. We were able to do this by having previously segmented our consumer community into customers having visited a range of shops in the last three months. Firstly, we looked into the popularity of shopping at Lush by age group:

The graph above makes it clear that the younger the consumers, the more likely they are to shop at the cosmetics chain. With nearly a third of the 18-24 year olds and a quarter of those aged 25-34 having shopped at Lush in the last three months, the efforts by the retailer to offer affordable yet catchy options are justified.

Last year, the retailer marked Valentine’s Day with the launch of a range of emoji-shaped bath bombs, which are featured again in this year’s collection. It includes some eyebrow-raising options, such as a phallic-shaped aubergine emoji bath bomb, which had reportedly caused a storm on social media. But are consumers looking for the unconventional this year? We ran two multi-option steers to Lush shoppers, each asking for their choices out of six products from the current limited edition line-up:

Using the top five products from the two multi-option steers collectively we ran a preference steer, which shows the products in groups of three until all combinations have been exhausted. Vypr’s platform displays the results as both exclusive preferences, where consumers have made consistent choices of a favourite product every time it has been shown, and all preferences, which include inconsistent choices together with second and third choices. Below is the the exclusive preferences result:

These results can inform the retailer about expected sales, so that larger quantities of the top choices and lesser from those with more limited success are produced. This supports better planning so that leftover production is minimised, especially with limited edition lines, which will not be marketed outside a certain period.

The preference steer above can also inform a product’s positioning, if we look into details about who the most likely consumer is. In this case, we were interested in gender profiles, as we expected that both men and women would participate in Valentine’s day gifting, but might have contrasting preferences. Below is a comparison of gender preferences for each of the five products:

Female consumers have expressed stronger exclusive preferences to all bath bomb instances, which suggests that the product type is a safe bet when it comes to gifts for women. Men, from the other hand, prefer soap and shower gel. 

By using Vypr’s multi-option and preference steers retailers can predict sales volumes within a limited edition range, based on the level of acceptance for each product. A detailed demographic view can highlight popularity of a product type among specific consumer subsets.

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