“Rose are red, violets are blue…” just might be the ultimate cliché for waxing poetically on Valentine’s Day. Much like the fabled poem “Mary had a little lamb,” it would be difficult to identify anyone who isn’t familiar with the prose. And like the fabled ‘little lamb” scenario, over the centuries the original poem is frequently edited, and in many newer versions infamously corrupted to proclaim differing sentiments. The association of the color of popular flowers to the emotions of love can be traced back to 1590 when Sir Edmund Spenser penned his original version of the poem, “The Faery Queen”.
“It was upon a Sommers shynie day,
When Titan faire his beames did display,
In a fresh fountaine, farre from all mens vew,
She bath’d her brest, the boyling heat t’allay;
She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forest grew.”
As one can see, the generations of time have indeed brought about some creative interpretations and a generous example of literary license. It’s alleged that Sir Edmund was thinking of Elizabeth I and her virtues of temperance, friendship, and chastity. We’re not certain how the attempt was received but there doesn’t appear to be any mention of Sir Edmund coming to any harm as a result of his advancement. So, we can only hope that it all worked out well for him.
In 1784 poet Joseph Ritson took a stab at combining the color of roses and violets and the sentiments of love in an effort that more closely aligns with modern day understanding:
“The rose is red, the violet’s blue.
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine.
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”
Okay, now it’s beginning to come together nicely and, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it may be prudent for all the lovers out there to opine a version of the historic poem, or maybe not.
The origins of the lovers’ holiday have been traced back to the second century when Emperor Claudius II executed two religious Martyrs named St. Valentine. Similar to many infamous versions of the poem, the original February 14 holiday doesn’t appear to have been about romance or love. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that Hallmark Greeting Card Company’s forebearer started distributing Valentine’s Day cards. By the start of the 21st century, more than 60 percent of Americans celebrated the holiday.
Valentine’s Day is often accused of being a ‘manufactured’ holiday, created for the purpose of exploiting consumer behaviors for profit. The occasion is certainly profitable for many businesses, but the ambiguous St. Valentine gets a bad rap for all the wrong reasons. The Holiday initiates an exceedingly powerful stimulus for retail businesses by tapping into what is our strongest human emotion – love.
Last year, 53 percent of Americans celebrated Valentine’s day with a significant other, family, themselves, or even a pet. Way to go Fido, you devil! Surveys reveal that consumers spent $23.9 billion last year and nine million love-seeking Americans chose to pop the big question on February 14. While the popularity of the holiday has decreased by 50 percent over the past five years, the implications are that the observance still has significant support among those between the age of 35 to 65. And even though your products or services aren’t directly related to St. Valentine’s Day, a marketing campaign centered around the holiday theme can result in increased seasonal revenues.
While flowers, candy, and jewelry top the most popular gifts for the season, there are many industry segments that are finding the holiday lucrative. Fitness memberships can be a great gift idea providing it is not interpreted as the giver’s statement of physical dissatisfaction of the recipient. Perhaps a conscientious gift to one another would be a better idea here, lest it alter the relationship in the wrong direction. Dinner at a favorite restaurant is generally a safe gift. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those five-star locations, but a stop at the local drive-up fast-food joint may diminish the romantic mood of the evening.
The point to remember is that consumers are always looking for creative, unique, and appropriate gift ideas. Suggesting something new like couples cooking classes, dance lessons or other gifts of shared interest can provide the sender an opportunity to say, “I want to spend more time with you” and set the gift apart from all the common and overdone submissions. Differentiate, set your brand and the message apart from the competition.
Gift guides and organic blog posts can inform your customers about some creative gifts for loved ones this holiday. The emphasis should be on consulting with the customer and helping them to identify a gift solution. Canned sales pitches should be avoided, and the effort should be focused on developing trust in the consumers’ minds. Wrap the message in Valentine’s Day themed images, videos, emojis, and graphics. Hearts, Cupid, and “Be Mine” are universally recognized and a proven holiday mainstay. Be prepared to run the campaign right up to the Day. Surveys show that 60 percent of Valentine’s Day spending happens within the last five days prior to the holiday. Don’t forget, before it is over, to spread some love and appreciation for loyal customers by offering free giveaways and loyalty incentives.
Roses are red, violets are blue, creative marketers have many a venue. Yes, I know, but do you have one better?