Gen Z and Valentine’s Day: a quick-step guide for marketers

red neon heart

The Beatles once said ‘All you need is love’. If your brand is looking to boost your engagement with Gen Z students this Valentine’s Day, you might need a little more than just love to help you see success. That’s where we come in – here’s our step-by-step guide for marketing to Gen Z as we approach February 14th. 

Step 1: Get to know your audience

When it comes to dating and Valentine’s Day, Gen Z are mixing things up. But, believe it or not, this demographic is not adverse to traditional dating styles. For example, at least 35% of US and UK students who identify as male would still prefer to pay for the bill in full when on a date. Those identifying as female are more likely than males to want to split the bill. Clearly chivalry isn’t dead, at least not for Gen Z. 

However, young people have changed the game with the integration of digitization within the dating scene. At least 49% of US students and 41% of UK students have signed up to a dating site. Of course, widespread usage of dating sites started with Millennials; for Gen Z, sliding into DMs is actually more preferable than swiping right – as 53% of US students have used social media to organize a date or hook-up. This figure rises to 61% in the UK. 

phone screen featuring love heart emojis

As well as dating, Gen Zs have created their own ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the last few years. Over 60% of Gen Zs in a relationship have celebrated Valentine’s Day before, with 57% of US students giving a gift to their partner. But gifting and celebrating isn’t just for couples; 62% of students would consider buying themselves a gift for Valentine’s Day – indicating a growing awareness around the importance of self-love and self-care – while 38% have given gifts on their Galentine’s Day celebrations.

After a tough time dealing with the pandemic over the last couple of years, this year’s Valentine’s Day will be all about love, in every shape or form.

Step 2: Know their budget 

Gifting is an important component to Valentine’s Day – but what exactly are young people buying for the occasion? The great news is that February 14th is an opportunity for every sector to win with Gen Z, because they don’t just stick to the traditional gifts. 

Our research shows that 84% would consider buying a fashion item as a gift for a partner. Meanwhile, 68% like the idea of buying event tickets, 58% tech products, 55% chocolate, 49% jewelry, and just under 40% would consider buying flowers and gift vouchers. 58% have also bought lingerie for themselves or a partner. 

You might think they’d be on a tight budget, but students are willing to spend more than you might think on these items and their Valentine’s Day activities. On average, students would spend up to $70 (£50 in the UK) on new clothes for a first date, and would reserve up to $43 (£36 for UK) for food, up to $46 (£31) for activities, and $29 (£27) for drinks. For gifts, students would be willing to part with as much as $167 (UK students would spend £141) for tech products and $150 (£105) for jewelry, with event tickets coming in at $145 (£85) and fashion following closely behind at $108 (£88). 

Valentine's present gift wrapped

Nevertheless, it’s no secret that students go out of their way to look for the best deals when making their purchases – and dating expenses are not exempt from their general purchasing habits. As a brand, boosted student discounts and giveaways are the best way to make your offering stand out to Gen Z shoppers. Involving gamification will also add an element of ‘shoppertainment’, which we know performs well with this consumer demographic. 

Step 3: Build brand awareness 

Now you’ve got some of the major Gen Z dating trends and spending habits down, it’s time to get creative and build up your brand awareness!

Social media should be your first port of call for marketing to Gen Z on the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Instagram ‘this or that’, sponsored posts, TikTok competitions, and Snapchat brand filters are some of the tactics you can adopt to draw Gen Z students in. 

Newsletters and helpful gift guides are also a good tool to use to position yourself as a go-to brand that’s relevant to the 16-24 age bracket. Another effective method to use to make your brand resonate with Gen Z is influencer marketing. Remember, it’s crucial to seek out influencers who share your brand values – a beauty brand wouldn’t go after an influencer that doesn’t wear makeup, for example.  

In conclusion

This Valentine’s Day is set to be bigger and better than the last. With no major lockdowns or covid restrictions to contend with this year, Gen Z students are free to celebrate the day in more ways than one. Whether they’re heading out for a romantic dinner with their partner, having a pamper night with friends, or treating themselves to a takeout and film night, your brand has an opportunity to get involved and see results with the young demographic. 

Are you ready to make a solid impression on Gen Z this Valentine’s Day? Sign up to our upcoming webinar ‘How to make Gen Z fall in love with your brand’ to learn more. 

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

Access the interactive report