Shooting Cupid’s Arrow

Shooting Cupid’s Arrow
Fall in love with the new and the old this Valentine’s Day

According to a Prosper Insights and Analytics survey done by the National Retail Federation, adults were expected to spend more than $17 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2014 — that’s “billion” with a “b” — creating a huge retail opportunity for party stores.

While 91 percent planned to spend on their significant other ($85.76), 59 percent of shoppers planned to show their appreciation for other family members by spending an average of $42.46, and 22 percent of shoppers were buying gifts for friends, spending an average of $34.76. Participants reported spending the most money on candy, flowers, jewelry and then greeting cards, and while 69 percent of respondents reported owning a Smartphone, 60 percent said they were not planning on researching or making a purchase with their Smartphone.
The conclusion? Snag some sweetheart sales in store to hear those registers ring.
Have a Heart
So what can retailers expect for Valentine’s Day 2015?  Dawn Kirschner of Unique said traditional designs in red, pink and white will always be important, but adding accent colors and patterning add a fresh look. Additionally focusing in on kid friendly patterns that focus on sweets are great for classroom parties. 
“For the upcoming year, we are featuring a new heart-shaped paper garland, along with a new block banner and heart cut-out banner,” Kirschner said. “We will also have a new deluxe 3-D centerpiece, party embellishments, glitter cutouts, shaped straws, soda bottle labels and photo props to meet all any entertaining needs.”
At Creative Converting, their designs also center on the traditional. 
“Our ‘Valentine Fun’ pattern focuses on traditional red and pink hearts, perfect for any celebration young or young-at-heart,” said Sarah Millies of Creative Converting. “‘Sweet Sayings’ brings back the candy heart theme, with everyone’s favorite sayings and a mix of classic red and bright colors.”
Because gift and treat giving continue to be a big focus for Valentine’s Day, they’ve also expanded their selection of paper treat bags, treat boxes, treat cups, baking cups and added new sandwich size treat bags with a zipper seal.
Lisa Bennett of Pioneer Balloon Co. said that trendy animal prints in bright pink, white and black patterns are very popular for many age groups and are showing up on paper/party goods, as well as balloons to finish off the theme for parties.
She suggested retailers select about five bouquets or balloon stand-up figures as a special promotion for Valentine’s Day and inflate one of each to put on display for ordering purposes. Give each offering a catchy name, as that will increase the appeal and make it easier for the customer to communicate which arrangement they want. 
“To aid in quicker bouquet production by store staff, collect all the balloons needed for each bouquet,” Bennett said. “If latex is part of the mix, include one extra balloon. Put the contents of each bouquet in a large envelope or plastic baggie. Write the name of the bouquet on this envelope and pre-pack the contents for each bouquet ahead of the busiest sales days. Staff members can just grab and inflate each sold project in minutes!” 
Quick and Easy
Speaking of convenience, that’s the key element that many shoppers are looking for — especially those like busy parents or significant others. Bennett suggests having a plan to promote party ideas to customers and local schools during the time they would be planning these events.
“The plan should include party décor ideas and specialty items that you are selling for Valentine’s and are appropriate for school events,” she said. “Offering a delivery program for complete party kits is also a nice incentive for busy moms and teachers.”
Make it easy for parents and teachers to pull together what they need, especially for school parties, like treat bags and boxes, treat cups, baking cups all grouped together, along with paper tableware that is classroom friendly. 
“Cupcake stands are also a great way to set up for a classroom party, and can be used to display anything from traditional cupcakes to treat cups filled with candy or treats for each student,” Millies added.
Kirschner agreed that displaying various examples of Valentine package options is a great way to provide shoppers with ideas — in and out of the classroom — as is merchandising the various products together so they don’t forget anything.
“Creating an area specifically for parent and teachers is a great way to show them how to decorate for Valentine’s Day classroom parties,” she added. “And having already made baskets are great for customers that don’t have the time or a creative side to do it on their own.” 
Men tend to buy what they see and are easily guided to personalize their gift, so prepare your staff with tips and do some role-playing for practice before the hectic day when sales begin. Bennett suggests grouping together pre-made bouquets that will be sold to male customers and displaying pre-made balloon bouquets with all the extras with a one price “All Included” promotion. This can be done with a counter card or menu board of complete Valentine’s bouquets that customers can choose from.
If they want to customize the “extras,” be sure your staff is trained to upsell by suggesting a specific gift choice like plush or candy that can be incorporated into the bouquet base.
“New Qualatex Starburst Bows are perfect for adding a decorative touch to gift baskets,” Bennett added. “The size is large enough to be impressive while still showing off the basket contents.”
Regardless of whether it’s a balloon bouquet for a haphazard husband or paperware for a class party, the key is to simply show what you want to sell. Everyone is short on time and becoming used to make quick decisions. By making it easy for your customer to have certain Valentine’s items that they can grab and go, or samples on display that can be made to order for delivery or a special pick-up time, you’re taking the hassle out of the heart.
Because with $17 billion out there to be spent, time is money, and hopefully sweet Valentine’s sales.

By Abby Heugel
Managing Editor

Originally posted Friday, Aug. 15, 2014

Tags: creative converting, national retail federation, pioneer balloon co., unique industries, valentine's day, valentine's day party products