Is Valentine’s Day a Marketing Scam?

“What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” — question asked by every single person at the beginning of February.

You know that you can’t do anything in February without seeing a bunch of ads about Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to feel guilty about how you need to spend more money on your significant other.

Is Valentine’s Day a marketing scam so that you spend money?

Is Valentine's Day a marketing scam?

Do you need a specific day to tell someone how you feel? Is Valentine’s Day a huge marketing scam?

This article was originally published on February 13, 2009. I have come a long way since then and have had many enjoyable and unforgettable Valentine’s Day celebrations. For some reason this 200 word piece has sparked some interesting comments over the last four years. I wanted to highlight the female comments. Any guy that totally bashes Valentine’s Day, usually just hasn’t had a great one. Plus, most of us guys just hate spending money.

Do you need a specific day to show someone appreciation?

  • Do you really need to go for a fancy and expensive dinner when you could cook some better food at home?
  • Why do hotel/restaurant rates increase significantly just because it’s February 14th?
  • Why are flowers so expensive?
  • Why can’t you show appreciation on any other day?

It’s an interesting discussion that could go on for hours.

Why do we have to be told when to celebrate something or someone?

Valentine’s Day is a marketing scam just like every other Hallmark holiday. Any holiday that forces you to spend money is a scam.

However, it’s your money and you decide how you want to spend it:

  1. If you’re single, then treat yourself to something nice or ignore the day totally.
  2. If you’re dating, then have some fun with your partner without blowing your savings.

If you’re going to remember anything about this article then remember this: you don’t need to spend a fortune on this holiday to have a good time. Just do what feels right.

What did the female readers of Studenomics have to say about Valentine’s Day?

When this article originally went live, many readers wrote in with their thoughts on this holiday.

Suzie wrote in with some positive thoughts:

“I actually do think that Valentine’s Day has been exploited by marketing departments. It’s become hugely commercialised with many people having over-inflated expectations which subsequently cause rows because their partner is supposed to *know* that “I don’t want to do anything special” means “Please hire a horse-drawn carriage and book a table at The Ritz”. However, the essential core is a good thing, reminding us not to take people we love for granted and giving us an excuse to make them feel special.”

Jasmin was pretty negative on the holiday:

“In my universe, it’s pretty much always been 50%-off-chocolate eve. I’m the one always getting in trouble because I say “I don’t care” and actually mean it, and then he (whoever he is at the time) does something for me and gets upset that 1) I’m not crying from happiness and 2) didn’t do anything for him. I hate cut flowers of any flavours. I don’t consider dead plants to be representative of “eternal love”, and a waste besides. Get me something potted if you have to go that route. Buy me chocolate, if you absolutely have to, but for the love of everything do it the day after and catch the discounts. Save your time/energy/money/creativity for my birthday, which is the important date as far as I’m concerned.”

There are a few more passionate comments below. Check them out!

What do you ladies think about Valentine’s Day? For a more detailed look, check out the economics of your love life in your 20s.

How can you save money on Valentine’s Day?

You can still enjoy this day without going broke.

Here are a few options to consider on Valentine’s Day:

  • Use this as an opportunity to try a new activity with your partner. You don’t have to force yourself to sit in an expensive restaurant where you won’t even like the food. There are many fun activities that you can try as a couple. Go bowling, try a paint night, or throw some axes. Have some fun.
  • Celebrate the day after. Can you do something on a different day?
  • Think of something meaningful. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Experiences and meaningful gifts can go a long.

We can complain about Valentine’s Day being a scam or we can try to make the most out of it.

On that note, do you guys have any plans for Valentine’s Day?

7 thoughts on “Is Valentine’s Day a Marketing Scam?”

  1. I dislike Valentine’s day. There’s so much pressure from everybody to do something special. I get pressure from the gf. I get pressure from coworkers asking what I’m going to do. I even get pressure from the students I tutor. Fortunately, we decided to just stay in cook dinner and use our anniversary, one week from now, to do the whole going out thing.

  2. My husband bought me a valentine’s coffee mug. My response– “Oh, that’s sweet. I hope you got this at the dollar store.”

    Going on 19 years. Certainly not because of chocolate and overpriced hallmark cards. Though I do like chocolate.

    I also like your blog, though I’m probably too old for it. But I have a 17 year old son and I keep trying to get him to read it. He won’t, so I read it and somehow I manage to bring up almost everything you say in our conversations.

  3. In answer to your questions:

    No, I don’t need a special day, but it can be nice to celebrate when other people are celebrating.

    No, again, I don’t need a special day, but it can’t hurt.

    No, I don’t *NEED* to go out, but it is nice to be romantic every now and then. (Although, preferably, not on a day when everyone else is out and the restaurants have two hour waits.)

    Because hotels and restaurants are run by smart people, and with the larger than normal demand for their products, they’re going to try to get every dollar they can from the love-struck masses.

    Is Valentine’s Day a scam? Probably about as much as any other holiday that encourages mass consumption on an annual basis.

  4. Valentines Day…what a joke?

    While i don’t believe that the day itself is a scam, the media have most certainly turned it into one. Simply put, if the media didn’t tell everyone to go out and do this and buy that (so they can profit) the so called “holiday” would cease to exist.

    Also, as you mentioned MD, why do prices take such a jump on February 14th? Meanwhile on the 15th prices are halved (give or take). If that isn’t a media scam then what is?

    If the true meaning of Valentines Day was to express love and gratitude then shouldn’t that be the other way around?

    As a marketer myself, I can see the obvious business advantages to such days. However, if i told you to that, for example, June 7th was ‘Crash Your Car Day’, would you do it?

    It is because of these reasons that I refuse to have anything to do with Valentines Day. When it comes to my partner, if she is unwilling to accept my beliefs then we probably shouldn’t be together anyway.

    I am proud to take the stance that I take about this “media holiday” and hold a very similar stance to other events such as Easter and Christmas.

    At the end of the day the only question that you should ask yourself is why should I do something special on that one particular day each year? Because the media tells you to? Shouldn’t you express your love for your partner every day?

  5. I am every inch FEMALE and I will tell you this: Valentine’s Day is a huge MARKETING SCAM. Women can be real witches and retailers put the fear of God into all men by advertising all their jewelry, candy, and lingerie. In reality, the problem is that many women hook up with men who are inconsiderate buttwads because if they find a nice one, the women don’t get to boss them around and tell them what to do all day long. No being truly happy with the trade off they have made,the women then insist on having this one day a year go just right, as opposed to actually just finding a nice caring man who also makes the other 364 days a year lovely. Yes those nice men are out there–I have one–they must be treated with love and respect, not bossed around and/or manipulated. On Valentine’s Day, we will be fixing dinner together at home and watching a movie that BOTH OF US are interested in seeing BECAUSE WE ARE PARTNERS………….your roses will be dead by next week and we will still be having dinner together and having a nice life.

  6. Fake. Insincere. Forced. Manipulated. There is nothing “real” about this holiday. If you love someone, you act on it the OTHER 364 days of the year, not the day you’re arm-twisted into it. Anything said or gifted on Valentine’s Day is, at best, suspect. Sincere? Please. I’m a retailer. I know first-hand the manipulation foisted onto customers to get them to buy stuff. It’s a consensus fallacy—everybody else does it, so it must be the right thing to do. Right? Think for yourself. Love your spouse but don’t be conned.

  7. I agree with Mark and the rest of group here. You don’t need Valentine’s Day to tell someone you love them. Actually, it;s even sweeter if you give your special someone flowers any other regular day because it’s even more appreciated.

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