Valentine’s Day 2024: What Does Gen Z Value Most?

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valentine's day email marketing

Valentine’s Day 2024 is just 39 days away. The new year has only just begun, and it’s already time to start prepping your Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns.

There will be hearts. There will be flowers. Your own promotions tab will turn pink.

This works great for brands with an older audience, or traditional Valentine’s bestsellers like flower merchants and chocolates (Valentine’s Day spending keeps increasing year-on-year). But it doesn’t grab the attention of the Gen Z folks in your email list. That’s the increasingly important segment of people born in the late 90’s and later. A growing number of them will probably just check out.

That’s a challenge for marketing managers under pressure to deliver a win after the January sales dip.

In this article, we’re taking a look at what’s wrong with Valentine’s Day email marketing from a Gen Z perspective, and giving you some practical tips to bridge the generation gap in your Valentine’s Day email marketing.

Marketing to Gen Z vs Millenials: What the Data Says

Of all the major holidays in every marketing manager’s calendar, Valentine’s Day might be the most automated and formulaic: heart emoji + cute message + discount.

But times are changing, and your email marketing needs to change with them. Here are some key statistics about Gen Z and Valentine’s Day:

  • Gen Z is less likely to celebrate at all: around 54%, compared to 64% of millennials (source)
  • They’re actually slightly more likely to spend on themselves than on other people (source)
  • If they do have a date, they’re likely to go for gifts that are budget-friendly and practical (we’ll come back to this a little later) (source)
  • For many, romance isn’t even on their agenda. They’re more interested in self-care and throwing a Galentine’s party with friends.

It’s pretty clear that schmaltzy, cheesy messaging probably won’t hit the mark. But what will?

Let’s consider some Valentine’s day marketing ideas to energize your Gen Z segment.

Tip #1: Remember That Gen Z Values Authenticity

If there’s one thing that almost everyone agrees on when it comes to Gen Z, it’s that this generation cares about authenticity as a value. And for many, generic, cookie-cutter marketing (laden with hearts) is distinctly inauthentic.

That doesn’t mean you need to exclude predictable symbolism altogether. But it does mean you have to work a little harder to make them care. One way to do that is to shift the focus of your emails away from Valentine’s Day itself (and all its potentially off putting cultural overtones) and onto readers themselves.

This template by Brooklinen really nails it by empathizing with the reader. V-Day shopping is a challenge – this email helps you figure it out.

Not a heart or sugary pink overlay in sight.

fresh valentine's day email marketing campaign

Why we love it:

  • From the outset, it’s about the reader’s needs, not Valentine’s Day.
  • It has plenty of playful word play (without sounding forced).
  • You can take a truly interactive journey through the email, without any complex or heavy coding elements.
  • There’s something for everyone, including budget and self-gifting options.
  • It’s orange!

Important Caveat on Gen Z Values: Don’t Overdo It

Authenticity isn’t the only thing that Gen Z values. In fact, the list of values this generation holds dear is pretty long. It includes sustainability, social responsibility, gender equity and more.

We’re all for leveraging these in email marketing to reach Gen Z audiences. But we have seen many stores over-emphasize these ideas in their Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns. They’re often surprised to find that the kind of ethics-focused messaging that does really well at other times of year falls flat in February.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep this one on the lighter side. You’ll have plenty of major marketing holidays to push sustainability. For this one, it’s best to just showcase love – in all its forms – and in all its awkward, fun, and funny glory.

Tip #2: Celebrate Self-Love as its Own “Thing”

As we saw earlier, a large portion of the Gen Z audience prioritizes self-care and self-love. It’s crucial that your emails don’t exclude them, or imply that a fun night in is a kind of next-best-thing to having a traditional romantic date.

The self-gifting angle is especially powerful for brands who aren’t traditional Valentine’s Day winners, like this industrial shoe brand:

valentine's shoe promo

Why we love it:

The heart is there – in an ironic, machine form. And the question in the banner just answers itself. All in all, this template hits all the right notes for a savvy reader who’s prioritizing thrift over romance (i.e – a huge chunk of the Gen Z cohort).

It also does a great job of showcasing the practicality of the brand (recall that for Gen Z, the connection between “practical” and “romantic” is pretty close).

Tip #3: Lean Into Girl Power

This one may seem counterintuitive. After all, men have traditionally been the biggest spenders on Valentine’s Day.

But there is a lot to be gained by de-emphasizing relationships and emphasizing a proudly independent lifestyle. This email by DAVIDsTEA cuts right to the chase:

Focus on Galentine’s Day

It may have begun as a joke from Parks & Recreation, but Galentine’s Day is now a serious entry in many eCommerce store’s marketing calendar. Celebrating female friendship on February 13th is a lucrative trend you cannot afford to miss.

We love how this banner spells it out in just 6 short words. The email repurposes Valentine’s Day messaging for an all-female audience looking to celebrate the day with friends, replacing the predictable pink with vibrant yellow.

Galentine’s Day also provides huge scope for other channels like UGC advertising on social media. If your products include female-friendly gifts, luxury items or food and beverages, consider creating bundles or pamper packs for women, single or not. Strategic UGC ads for these products and offers can engage massive traffic for #galentine on social media platforms.

Refresh Your Valentine’s Day Email Marketing with Hustler Marketing

It may be early January, but our vibrant, global team of email marketing experts is already hard at work, crafting fresh Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns. Supporting over 40 medium to large eCommerce brands, Hustler Marketing has the deep experience and technical expertise to make your Valentine’s Day campaigns a success with younger and increasingly critical audiences.

Reach out to our team to book your own free consultation. We’ll assess your email and UGC marketing channels, and spot opportunities you’re missing to reach Gen Z customers. But don’t wait too long – there are only 39 days between now and Valentine’s Day 2024!

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