Valentine ads woo ‘cheapskates’

The vast majority of brands running Valentine’s Day campaigns are missing an opportunity to promote their brand values and evoke a more emotional response from consumers – instead targeting “cheapskates” with cut-price deals to get quick sales.
That is according to a review of over 200 Valentine’s-themed ads in national media, carried out by agency United. The agency is led by former Proximity chiefs Elly Woolston and Duncan Gray, with backing from the Direct Marketing Group.
The study revealed that 64% of the ads focused purely on price; ranging from the sublime such as dine in for £20 to the ridiculous 7p cards from Asda. Only 15% were found to centre on brand values that evoke a more emotional response from consumers; 21% hedged their bets, containing both a value and values message.
Some of the findings included:
Boots’ campaign went head to head with rival Superdrug to focus purely on price
Laura Ashley failed to capitalise on its brand values by choosing a discount based campaign
The Co-op has abandoned its usual values-based stance to opt for price oriented advertising
Waitrose and Sainsbury’s chose the middle ground and took a combination-only approach
M&S split its campaign evenly between value, values and a combination of the two.
The research marks the launch of United’s Value-Values Tracker: a planning tool that monitors price-driven marketing campaigns against values-based communications.
The media neutral tracker wilis designed to enable brands to measure marketing activity around key calendar events. This will ultimately be used to predict the most suitable dates for values-based messaging that both achieve stand out and deliver on commercial objectives.
United planning partner Steven Dodds said: “The tracker shows that there is a wealth of opportunity for brands that wish to evoke a deeper connection with their customers during the Valentine’s period, particularly given that Valentine’s Day is more of an emotional event than a strictly commercial one like Halloween.
“The majority of communications we monitored were one hit wonder discounts clearly hoping to generate quick sales. However, such communications are failing to resonate with customers that want deeper relationships with their favourite brands.
“The fact that Waitrose and Sainsbury’s chose an approach that included offers that appealed to the consumers’ beliefs is reassuring, and their recent growth in sales is a measure that the values-led approach does indeed work.”
Elly Woolston added: “The aim of the tracker is to demonstrate to brands the business benefits of going beyond price and giving customers something to believe in.
“By keeping a running tally of communications that are sent during key calendar dates we can gain a much fuller understanding of the market place and make far more informed recommendations to our clients about how to achieve standout during these extremely congested times.”

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