Why Valentine's Day candy sales are different

Retailers get creative in marketing to men

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Christmas jingles sometimes can be heard in October.

Easter nearly is a two-month process.

But Valentine’s Day is a blip — at least for retailers and candy makers looking to profit off of the holiday, said Crystal Lindell, the managing editor for Candy Industry Magazine.

Lindell reported a Godiva statistic that about one in every four men only think about Valentine’s Day a couple days before the holiday.

“Candy makers and retailers alike are hesitant with new products for that season,” Lindell said. “A lot of the sales tend to happen the day of or the day before. So they don’t come out with a ton of new crazy things.”

Here are three other tidbits about Valentine’s Day candy you might consider pondering before Saturday’s holiday.

Valentine’s Day is not a top-three holiday for candy sellers

Halloween, Easter and Christmas/Hanukkah also rank well ahead of Valentine’s Day when it comes to holiday sales, Lindell said.

But that does not make the holiday irrelevant — just a more difficult date for retailers to promote.

“Valentine’s Day is a weird holiday,” Lindell said. “Everybody’s hung up on Christmas and they’re just getting back into the season. “

People spent an average of $23 on Valentine’s Day, according to 2013 data from Mars. Almost 80 percent of people who buy candy buy candy for a spouse or romantic interest, the data stated.

But Lindell said Hershey has pushed out more products designed to appeal to people who might set out candy for friends, family or neighbors.

“They’re trying to tap into a market that has a lot of potential for the holiday and might even spur people to buy products outside that three-day window,” she said. “If you’re buying for a significant other for the holiday, it makes sense that you would buy kind of within that timeframe. But if you’re going to buy candy for a candy dish, they’re hoping you would buy it a couple weeks in advance or a week in advance and have that at your office or your school or your house.” 

Candy makers take precautions with Valentine’s Day promotions

The lack of a longer season has led candy makers to come up with unique ways to make the most of the season without tying up too much inventory to Valentine’s Day products that become irrelevant after the holiday.

“One of the things a lot of candy makers are doing is making a product with a sleeve on it that can be taken off after Valentine’s Day and then the product can be sold the day after as a non-Valentine’s Day item,” Lindell said. 

Candy makers also wrap existing products such as Hershey’s Kisses in red, pink and white wrappers that work for Valentine’s Day but are not tied to the holiday.

Men are being targeted more on upper-end chocolate makers

Godiva turned its attention to men with the advertisement below featuring comedian Rob Riggle, Lindell said.

Godiva and other high-end chocolate makers tend play an important role in Valentine’s Day. Whereas M&Ms are bought at grocery counters, purchases of chocolate’s like Godiva are more likely to be made for special occasions.

“If you’re buying for a significant other, you’re probably going to hit a price point that is above $15 or in that range, whereas there’s a lot of Valentine’s Day candy that is $5 or less,” Lindell said.

And Valentine’s Day is primarily a chocolate holiday, Lindell said.

“If I had to say as somebody in the industry, it’s pretty high chocolate,” Lindell said. “Most of the items that come out are chocolate based. Mars also owns Wrigley, and they don’t even send out a press release about Wrigley Valentine’s Day items.”

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