Chivalry is Not Dead on Valentine’s Day

marketing to men valentines day FullSizeRenderIn case you hadn’t noticed, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and though the holiday might seem to be a bit sentimental and manufactured to some people, it does support the old cliché that the more things change, the more they stay the same – well, at least on certain occasions.

You see, for all of the ongoing analysis and discussion about how the roles of men and woman have evolved and blurred over the recent years, when it comes to Valentine’s Day very little has changed. Chivalry is not dead on February 14th.

Certainly much has been made about the notion that marketers shouldn’t engage millennial men in the same manner in which they marketed to their fathers, or their father’s fathers for that matter. And it makes sense when you consider the fact that more men have assumed what used to be considered traditional female roles. However, in a day and age where men change diapers, cook dinner regularly, or have even taken on the role of full-time homemakers, they still don’t want to be referred to as “Mr. Mom.”

Valentine’s Day seems to be a bit of an anomaly within this new landscape, representing a moment-in-time when men are true traditionalists, and that means walking through the door with flowers, jewelry or candy.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), men will outspend women nearly two-to-one this Valentine’s Day ($190.53 versus $96.58 on average, respectively) (click to tweet). And while smartphones and even gifts for pets have become categories that are gaining traction, the NRF notes that tried and true gifts such as candy (53.2%), flowers (37.8%) and jewelry (21.1%) will be the top choices this year.

Valentine’s Day is still very much an occasion for men to buy gifts for their significant others and supports the argument that a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing-to-men simply no longer works.

Last spring Ketchum and maslansky + partners, a research-driven language strategy firm, completed a Language of Men study which revealed that despite the stereotype that millennials are nothing like their dads or granddads, it turns out that not all millennials are created equal. The data actually indicated that a notable subset of millennial males are emerging as New Traditionalists, expressing beliefs and values more typically associated with previous generations.

According to the Language of Men study, the New Traditionalists are:

  • More likely than older millennials to believe men are still expected to be provider and protector (23 percent versus 15 percent of older millennials)
  • More likely to say it matters that men are the breadwinners in a marriage (40 percent versus 33 percent)
  • More likely to think the “strong, silent” stereotype still applies to them (28 percent versus 24 percent)
  • Less likely to think it’s OK to be vulnerable about their looks with friends (67 percent versus 74 percent)

Based on this data, it will be interesting to track this younger subset of millennial men to analyze whether or not their attitudes change as they become older, or if we’re potentially witnessing a return to the behavior patterns generally associated with previous generations.

In the meantime, guys, DON’T FORGET THE FLOWERS! You’re welcome.

Clark is a senior vice president/client director in the Retail Sector within Ketchum’s New York office. He has extensive brand marketing experience, with over 25 years in the public relations industry. Clark provides strategic counsel in specialty communications areas including brand-building programs, employee communications and CSR for leading companies and organizations. Clark graduated from C.W. Post with a bachelor of fine arts degree in public relations. He resides in Chappaqua, NY.