Category Archives: Consumer Trends

The Business of Valentine’s Day

valentines-day-clipart-3Are you getting ready for Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone — more than half of Americans wait until the week before to buy presents and cards.

Here are some fun factoids about this special day….

Valentine’s Day is big business

  • Although Americans spend more than $13 billion on Valentine’s gifts each year, the National Retail Federation predicts they will spend more than $17 billion this year.
  • The average of amount of money spent by a Valentine’s Day shopper is over $130.
  • 83% of Americans will share and enjoy candy with each other on Valentine’s Day.
  • Valentine’s Day is the number one sales day for florists. Red roses make up 63% of sales.
  • 151 million Valentines (cards) are exchanged. Half of those are given to children.
  • People send more than 15 million email valentines each year. Remember, first class postage stamps just went up to 49 cents on January 26.
  • 40 million heart-shaped boxes of candy and other confections are sold for Valentine’s Day.
  • 40% of smartphone owners will use their phone to shop for Valentine’s Day.

Women and Valentine’s Day

The numbers indicate that women take Valentine’s Day very, very seriously.  VERY seriously. If you love a woman, consider yourself warned!

  • Only 14% of women in a relationship don’t expect to get anything.
  • Women buy 85% of Valentine’s Day cards.
  • 36% of women buy flowers, and 14% of women send flowers to themselves on Valentine’s Day.

Men and Valentine’s Day

The numbers also indicate that maybe men deserve a little bit more attention on this special day…

  • 47% of men in a relationship think they won’t get a gift for Valentine’s Day.
  • 74% of men say they will buy a gift for their significant other
  • 47% of men expect to get a card.
  • 83% of men would rather get chocolate than flowers.
  • More than 30% of men plan to spend more this year than last year.
  • 73% of flowers bought on Valentine’s Day are bought by men.
  • While 20% of men say they would love to get sports tickets for Valentine’s Day, most (70%) say they would just be happy to have sex.

The sociological impact of Valentine’s Day

  • Nearly 62% of Americans agree that celebrating holidays like Valentine’s Day brings happiness in tough economic times.
  • 10% of marriage proposals are made on Valentine’s Day (about 220,000).
  • 85% of men and women say sex is an important part of Valentine’s Day
  • An average of 11,000 children are conceived each year on Valentine’s Day. This is a long, holiday weekend, and Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, so that number might be a wee bit higher this year. Hospitals, take note.
  • More than half of women (53%) said they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day.  The requests for divorce lawyers goes up 40% in mid-February every year.

Weird but true…

  • In Japan, the custom is for women to give chocolate to men, rather than vice versa.
  • South Koreans who don’t receive anything for Valentine’s Day eat black noodles on April 14 (Black Day) to mourn their single lives.
  • It is illegal for Muslims to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia. Red flowers may not be sold on this day, and non-Muslims can only celebrate behind closed doors.
  • On February 14, 2011, Malaysian officials arrested more than 100 couples for illegally celebrating Valentine’s Day.


The 2014 Color of the Year

swatch-cardFor more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

The company has just announced that PANTONE® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid is the color of the year for 2014.

Radiant Orchid blends fuchsia, purple, and pink undertones. In design and fashion, it pairs well with olive and hunter greens, turquoise, teal, light yellows, gray, beige, and taupe.

In selecting the color of the year, color experts at Pantone examine trends in films, art exhibitions, travel destinations, and society, among other influential factors.

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

“An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

We are all for creativity at Fletcher Prince! What do you think of the Color of the Year?  How might you use it?

Small Business Saturday marketing trends

SHOP_SMALLNovember 30th marks the fourth annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers.

Why Shoppers Are Shopping Small

The trend for shopping small is increasing, with 35% of consumers stating that they like to shop at local small businesses, up from 27% last year. New research indicates why shoppers are drawn to small businesses for their holiday shopping

  • 57% believe it’s important to support local businesses
  • 49% are attracted to unique merchandise
  • 39% say local businesses offer personalized service and suggestions
  • 25% say area businesses typically offer good prices

Retailers Get Ready for Small Business Saturday

With five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2013, many small business owners say they’ll be pulling out all of the stops to get customers into stores during the holiday shopping season.

For many of the small business owners who are aware of Small Business Saturday, the day will be a part of their promotional calendar. Of those small business owners incorporating Small Business Saturday into their holiday plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers. Additional findings from the surveyed owners reveal

  • 67% will offer discounts
  • 39% will collaborate with other small businesses to promote Small Business Saturday
  • 36% will offer coupons for future offers or discounts
  • 33% will offer a gift with purchase
  • 33% will rely on social media most to promote Small Business Saturday to their customers
  • 32% are starting their holiday promotions earlier than last year
  • 21% will increase the number of employees working on Small Business Saturday

When PR and marketing work a little too well…

Not a huge fan of Miley Cyrus’ new image – but commentator David Johnson has a point — she and the people behind her brand crafted a strategy, carried it through, and stayed on message. That’s the  PR/Marketing lesson for today.

Also interesting: Twitter played a big part in bringing her to the media forefront.

According to this author, tweet activity is a factor to sponsors and advertisers now, and MC was the topic of more tweets than any other performer during the MTV Video Music Awards program.

So, we’ve got another example of how branding works, and how to leverage Twitter.  PR-wise, it works.  But is everything about PR?  For that matter, is everything about being successful and a household name?

Doesn’t the music still matter?  Or is that a really naive thing to say? Is it really all about twerking now?

It makes me sad to think of all the musicians who have dedicated years to learning and perfecting their craft — who put all their creativity into music, making untold numbers of sacrifices along the way, and they are eclipsed by someone who wiggles their bottom.

I know the music industry is competitive and branding is nothing new to performers. Still, I have to wonder: at what price did her current success come?  Will she look back at this time and have regrets about the damage she did to her credibility as a musician?  Or is it all about the money?

Sometimes, I think what we learn and apply in PR and marketing can work a little too well, you know what I mean?  It can take on lightning speed.  Her transformation was meteoric. Perhaps that was the intent.

To illustrate, here are two videos.  One is from less than a year ago, December 2012.  To me, then she had an image that she could own. Her voice is not spectacular, and the song is Dolly Parton’s, but she could have built on this.

And this is Miley, today… Her look and sound seem like a formulaic, success-built hybrid of Madonna/Gwen Stefani/Lady GaGa.  Her voice is still unimpressive, she can’t dance, and the video is gratuitously salacious.  She has all the presence of a little girl walking around in her mama’s shoes.  But she offers shock-value.  She got views.

The thing is: where does she go from here?  This is flash-in-the-pan marketing, and the only way to maintain it is to just keep dialing up the shock value.  Musically, she has nowhere to go, unless she metamorphoses once again, because this is all packaging.

I just question whether a 20-year-old is in the position to make these kinds of life-changing decisions.  Maybe she is.  Someone in PR and marketing is advising her.  Is this responsible?  I hope they can live with the results.

2013 will be the year of mobile

For years, pundits have been proclaiming that mobile will finally deliver on its promise of being a major marketing and PR channel, and until very recently, that promise hasn’t materialized.

Well, all that has changed, as you’ve probably noticed.  And according to the folks at eMarketer, 2013 will truly be the year of mobile, whether the message is on smart phones, iPads, or readers.

Check out this interesting presentation from eMarketer, which is chock-full of stats and examples.

10 trends for 2013 – consumer preferences and insights for marketers

As marketers, it’s important to keep our fingers on the pulse of emerging trends.

The advertising agency J. Walter Thompson — now branding itself as the marketing communications agency, “JWT” — tracks and analyzes global consumer trends.  For the past seven years, they’ve been compiling an annual forecast of trends that makes for fascinating reading.  Here is a quick overview


JWT Intelligence publishes a blog that has many other insights and trend reports, including this on food trends:



When it comes to marketing, the holidays are not a time for lameness

I think we all know that Bank of America has had some image problems lately.  Might be understating it.

That’s why I was mildly surprised when I walked into the Falls Church brand of Bank of America to cash a check.  The lobby has been recently updated with some new furniture.  So far, so good.

But they put up holiday decorations that looked like they were put up by someone who just hates the holidays.

When I see something like that in a retail or public space, as a customer, I think: they did not even try.  And when I think they don’t try, I feel disrespected, because I feel they don’t care.  That’s true about any business, but especially for banks, where there is so much competition.

This is what I saw — the teller front counters were festooned with cheap, wrinkly bows and mismatched, tattered tinsel.  When I say “tattered,” I mean some parts of the garland had no foil on at all and it was just some limp looking string, randomly taped up with no regard to appearance.  There were some plastic candy canes that had foil stripes, only the foil strips were hanging off and just dangling there.  It looked just awful.

I mean, would it have killed them to grab some poinsettias from Safeway?  They’re like 3 for $10.  And sprang for some nice bows or tinsel?  I’m not saying businesses should decorate for Christmas or the holidays, or spend a small fortune if they choose to do so.  But if you manage a business  — especially one that has had as bad a year as Bank of America has had — and you choose to put up public seasonal decorations, you should put some effort into it, or at least not put up decorations that are in trash-can condition.  And they should be tasteful, as Christmas is a tradition that is close to people’s hearts.

The decorations were so depressing, I quietly mentioned to the teller that she might want to tell her manager that a customer found them distasteful, and that they might want to invest $5 in some new ones, because it was not a good look for the bank.  She seemed to agree with me, and said she would mention it.  That’s when I thought: gee whiz! It must be dejecting even to work there.

Now contrast this to my bank, Virginia Commerce Bank, also in Falls Church.  I love my bank branch.  When I go into my bank, I am greeted warmly, there is music playing, and there are decorations for the season.  There’s coffee or water, and sometimes treats.  They are also usually participating in some community activity, which shows what good corporate citizens they are.  For example, recently they had a Pack and Play on display in the lobby full of boxes of diapers that they were collecting and were going to donate to charity.

The fact is: Virginia Commerce Bank tries to make a connection with its customers.  Bank of America doesn’t, or not nearly as much.  Is it surprising that people are leaving big banks for credit unions and community banks?

If you have a brick and mortar or storefront business, the appearance of your business is a sign of the degree of respect you have for your customers and prospective customers.  As someone who celebrates Christmas, I would not be rushing into this branch to open an account.  My advice to businesses today is don’t let a small and inexpensive detail derail the hard work you are doing in other areas of your business.  Sometimes the small and noticeable details can make or break you.

Marketing Lessons We Learned in 2011

2011 was definitely a face-palm year, at least for marketers.  I think I have a permanent indentation on my forehead now.  Hopefully that will heal up in 2012 🙂

Hindsight is 20/20 but the truth is — we marketers do learn from other’s mistakes.  This isn’t schadenfreude.  I’m not into that.  This is: read and learn, Grasshopper.  Do this, not that.

What We’re NOT Going to Do On Twitter in 2012

Twitter has been around since 2006.  You would think, in 4-1/2 years, professional communicators would learn how (and how not) to use it.  You would think that, but you would be wrong.

Advertising Age did a cracker-jack job of collecting the past year’s biggest social media blunders.  No surprise, all of them erupted on Twitter.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one hundred times.  Twitter is great.  Yes.  Check in.  Keep tabs on your reporter buddies.  Respond to complaints.  But don’t let it take over your marketing communications.

Take some of that energy and put it into blogging. Blogging is much more thought-intensive, it has more longevity, and it’s a lot less likely to land your company in the soup — because, frankly, it’s just not as easy as Twitter.

People and companies who tweeted and regretted later in 2011 included Representative Weiner, New Media Strategies, Kenneth Cole, Gilbert Gottfried, GoDaddy, Netflix, and Ashton Kutcher, among others.  These were devastating blows to their personal and corporate brands, all from a tweet!

No More Bloopers on YouTube in 2012

YouTube has been around since 2005.  You might recall a few months ago when I conducted an analysis of the YouTube usage of 100 top PR and advertising firms (links below), and I did not like what I found.  Overwhelmingly, agencies are not taking full advantage of YouTube — from not having a presence at all to uploading truly bizarre and off-brand, poorly produced videos.

It is time — well past time — to take the 3rd most visited site on the Internet seriously.  YouTube will soon be on all of our televisions.  It’s already on a lot of sets.  Have you got $500,000 to produce a 30 second commercial for distribution on national television?  No?  Well, this might be a good time to start investing some resources into your brand presence on YouTube.

Just Because It’s An “App” Doesn’t Make It Amazing

I think in 2011 we learned that not every app is going to sing like Angry Birds.  They may have entertainment value, but what matters in marketing is the relationship between app usage and conversions — which isn’t always strong. This turned out to be true for QR codes and to a lesser extent for Groupon and Foursquare.

Merry Marketing: 10 Irresistible, Fabulous, and Unique Licensed Items to Put Under the Christmas Tree

You know, it’s a triumph of marketing when people are so enchanted with your company or product that you can make them pay for the privilege of advertising your brand for you.  What a coup!

Licensed Products Are Big Business

Licensed merchandise comprises a global market worth $187 billion (License Magazine, 2010). Disney products alone bring in $27 billion in retail sales. Even nonprofit organizations are licensing products  – of course you are familiar with licensed items from Sesame Street and National Geographic, but did you know The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a furniture collection sold at Lowe’s? And the ASPCA licenses pet care accessories sold at Wal-Mart and other stores.

 10 Licensed Items for Your Christmas List

Just for fun, since we are all about marketing here at Fletcher Prince, I thought I would share 10 frankly promotional items that would make great Christmas presents.

1. Pan Am Bag

Are you a fan of the new television show, Pan Am?  Some brands never truly die, and evidently there are plenty of Pan Am enthusiasts around.  Travelers on Pan Am received bags like these.  The flight attendants carried them, so did JFK and The Beatles.  Did you ever want one of your own?  The Pan Am store offers several new versions and sizes of these bags($45 and up) so you can walk around with a little marketing history.

2. Harry Potter Time Turner & Sticker Kit

Harry Potter fans define the category of rabid.  The latest release, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” this summer was the third highest grossing movie in history, according to Forbes.  There is a terrific amount of Harry Potter merchandise.  But I’m partial to this reasonably priced Time Turner gift set that includes a necklace that is a fair replica of the one Hermione Granger wears in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” If  only it were really magic, right?  But it would still make a great stocking stuffer.  It’s $8.95 from Barnes and Noble.

3. Old Spice T-Shirts

Old Spice has given us one of the most celebrated advertising campaigns in recent memory, and they also offer several t-shirts for sale that are cooler to wear than Old Spice itself.  You’re not going to catch me dabbing on Old Spice anytime soon, but I am asking Santa Claus for this “Ahoy” t-shirt ($15).


4. Coca Cola Christmas Ornaments

One of the most enduring brands, Coca Cola produces scads of logo-emblazoned merchandise.  But I bet you thought you’d never see a Coca Cola Christmas tree.  Yep.  This one was spotted at The Golden Goose in Occoquan, Virginia.  You can buy the themed ornaments for your Coca Cola swigging buddies there, or online from the Coca Cola Store.

5. OPI Muppets Nail Polish

So the new Muppets movie is a big hit this fall.  Guess what?  OPI has a Muppets collection of nail polish.  I know!  I mean, that’s the beauty of licensed merchandise.  It doesn’t have to make sense — it just has to be enchanting.  If you have a friend or relative who lives for the mani-pedi AND has a cuteness weakness, maybe tuck one of the 12 Muppets-inspired OPI nail polish shades, like “Warm and Fozzie” or “Animal-istic”  into her stocking this Christmas.

6. Barbie Silk Scarf

Are you into Barbie?  Still?  The brand has endured for more than 50 years. This past Thanksgiving, my mom was sporting this chic white, pink, and black silk scarf.  I was surprised when she told me it was actually a Barbie item, featuring retro designs by Robert Brest.  It’s a steal at $24.95.  There are many other items your girly-girl Mom will love for Christmas on the Barbie site for grown up Barbie fans,

7. Revenge Infinity Box

Do you watch the ABC television series “Revenge”?  Well, then, you know all the secrets Amanda/Emily keeps in the infinity box her dad gave her?  Would you like your own secret box?  Surely this box is one of the more unique licensed items out there.  $24.99 on  Just don’t plot any revenge with it, because that wouldn’t be Christmas-y.

8. Ford “Mustang” Necklace and “Seat” Belt

Believe it or not, Ford is the best selling car brand in the United States.  Personally, I think if you love someone who drives a Ford, the nicest thing you can give him or her for Christmas is a Honda 🙂

But for those die-hard Ford fans out there who want to visibly proclaim their love for the brand, there is The Ford Collection of licensed merchandise.  This sterling silver Mustang pendant ($25) is subtle and innocuous enough.

But this Mustang “seatbelt” belt ($29) is a real conversation starter. Or stopper. Depending.

9. Andy Warhol Art Keychain

I just have the feeling that Andy Warhol, who measured his fame in newspaper column inches, would love the fact that there are now keychains ($3.55 each) featuring his iconic art.  Not to mention Christmas cards, puzzles, calendars, coloring books, magnets, mousepads, watches, and even night lights.  The ultimate stocking stuffer for the hipster in your life who yearns to be famous for fifteen minutes.  All available online from the official Warhol Store.


10.  Victoria’s Secret NFL Collection Lingerie and Lounge Wear

You know, the Super Bowl is not too long off, and these offerings from Victoria’s Secret give a whole new meaning to the term “Fantasy Football.”   Available for all 32 of your favorite NFL teams (Go Raiders!) in panties, sleep wear, and lounge wear, online from Victoria’s Secret.


What’s in a meme? A look at top trending social media topics of 2010

What mattered to the world in 2010?  It’s easy to identify — just look at the online memes that developed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google search.

(A meme, you might recall, is defined as a unit of cultural information transferable from one mind to another.  An Internet meme has a viral quality; it spreads quickly across platforms. Think pop culture.)

What we talked about on Facebook in 2010….

Find us on FacebookHere are the terms that appeared most in status updates by the more than 500 million people who used Facebook in 2010:

1. HMU (it means: “hit me up,” which means “call me” or “contact me”)
2. World Cup
3. Movies
4. iPad and iPhone 4
5. Haiti
6. Justin Bieber
7. Games on Facebook (I find this one surprising)
8. Mineros/Miners (refers, of course, to the trapped Chilean miners)
9. Airplanes
10. 2011

What we tweeted in 2010….

25 billion tweets were posted on Twitter in 2010, and these Twitter trends reflect what people cared about the most.  The top 10 trends in Twitter updates were:

1. Gulf oil spill
2. FIFA World Cup
3. Inception
4. Haiti earthquake
5. Vuvuzela (the noise-making instruments used at the 2010 World Cup)
6. Apple iPad
7. Google Android
8. Justin Bieber
9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
10. Pulpo Paul (the octopus that successfully picked the winning team in each game of the World Cup finals)

What we wanted to watch on YouTube in 2010….

35 hours of new video are uploaded every minute on YouTube.  The most-searched for terms on YouTube during the year show what was on our minds in 2010.

What did we search for on Google?

The fastest rising search terms on Google were

  1. chatroulette
  2. ipad
  3. justin bieber
  4. nicki minaj
  5. friv
  6. myxer
  7. katy perry
  8. twitter
  9. gamezer
  10. facebook
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