Forget traditional sales strategies. Try these instead

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Still marketing Valentine’s Day with roses and hearts? Try this instead


Love hearts. Roses. Chocolate: While Valentine’s Day may forever be tied to these symbols, new ways to celebrate love are now emerging in the retail space – and they don’t all revolve around romance.


Over the past few years, a growing number of businesses have begun taking a fresh look at Valentine’s Day – from hotels and stationery companies celebrating “Galentine’s Day” to retailers and brands launching diverse and inclusive campaigns.


Australian skincare clinic The Dermal Diary has already begun promoting its ‘Galentine’s Day’ gifts, which include a Luminous Lift Mask Kit.


"We absolutely love the idea of Galentine's Day,” Isabella Loneragan of The Dermal Diary says of the new take on Valentine’s Day, which celebrates female friendships and was popularised by a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation. “If 2020 taught us anything, it is that we all need to support and care for one another and Galentine's Day is just the perfect way to do that.”


And it’s not just our annual day of love; more and more retailers are taking a non-traditional approach to other major retail events.


Take Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the yearly retail event that kicks off the pre-Christmas sales season. Retailers such as Patagonia, Spell & The Gypsy Collective and Maggie Marilyn have used these days to reinforce their stance on responsible shopping.


On Black Friday in 2011, Patagonia took out a full-page ad in The New York Times telling customers “Don’t Buy This Jacket”, and in 2016, it donated 100 per cent of Black Friday sales, totalling over US$10 million, to environmental non-profit groups. 


Sydney-based sustainable fashion brand Citizen Wolf coined ‘Black Fridye’ in 2018, an initiative that encourages customers to send in worn clothes to be given a new lease of life with black dye – rather than buying new items.  


Zoltan Csaki, co-founder of Citizen Wolf, explains that with their mission to end disposable fashion for good, “We can’t in good faith start going on sale when part of our entire ethos is that there are too many clothes being made already.”


It’s an approach that delivers long-term gains, he says. “What we forego in sales revenue during those periods, we make back many times over in brand equity, customer loyalty and PR.”


While he acknowledges that the benefits can be hard to quantify, “You’ve got to have people in your team who have faith that, even in the absence of very hard metrics, this is actually a good idea.”


Professor Gary Mortimer of QUT Business School says that while retailers continue to strongly support traditional retail events, niche marketing moments allow retailers to strengthen both their brand and bonds with customers. 


With businesses increasingly keen to reflect their values - whether environmental or social, as in the case of LGBTQI-inclusive Valentine's Day messaging - the calendar presents an opportunity to take a stand for good. 


Plus, taking an alternative approach – and flipping a tradition on its head – can deliver valuable publicity. “It’s a novel strategy to go against the masses because it creates cut-through,” Prof Mortimer adds. “How do you create attention? You do something different.”

Daisy Dumas is a journalist who has worked for The Sydney Morning Herald and London’s Evening Standard.


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