The candlelit dinner is still popular for Australians looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day – but the setting has changed, with many choosing to settle in at home with their favourite rom-com on TV as COVID-19 changes the dating game, a new report from MiQ Digital has revealed.
The new insights report, “Mating Habits of the Homebound Mammal – Dating, Romance and Valentine’s Day in the post-COVID World”*, examines how the pandemic has affected dating habits and online activity, along with how Australians are planning to spend Valentine’s Day 2021.
Traditional Valentine’s Day activities like movies and shopping are also expected to take a hit, in favour of a weekend binge of romances and romantic comedies on streaming services. TV viewership is set to increase during Valentine’s Day by fifty percent, with lifestyle shows and movies the big hits.
Rom-com viewers made up twenty percent of OTT viewing the week of Valentine’s Day 2020 and those viewers are young and in relationships.
Romance in the COVID world has become more creative, with food delivery and meal preparation services seeing increased interest among Australians, with a fifty-one percent rise in those searching online for such services.
Online dating is also expected to surge around Valentine’s Day. Last year, there was a fourty-four percent rise in online dating platform activity nationwide in the week of Valentine’s Day. Online dating also saw a massive rise during the pandemic.
The study shows online activity across dating platforms increased by more than ninety percent in May and June 2020, when most of the country was in lockdown, and then significantly declined in July as restrictions eased. Numbers spiked again in October as lockdowns were implemented across Victoria.
While gift giving is still very popular on the day, flowers and chocolates may have to move over for DIY gifts that tap into the lockdown home improvement boom, such sky lanterns and LED/letter boards. Interest in DIY and personalised gifts has exploded, quadrupling over the last three years.
Online shopping is expected to boom, with most Valentine’s Day gifts set to be purchased online. Interest in gift giving has risen to 43% in Australia, making us the third top country behind the UK and US. Consumers researching online for Valentine’s Day gifts has already increased by fifteen percent this year, compared to January 2020.
It appears women are keener than ever to find the right gift for their partner: the search term “gifting for him” has significantly increased (fourty-eight percent) compared to “gifting for her” (eleven percent).
While the focus on gift giving remains steady, interest in celebrating Valentine’s Day has declined overall, down from (fifty-one percent) in 2018 to (thirty-seven percent) in 2020.
MiQ Australia CEO, Jason Scott, said the nation’s first post-COVID Valentine’s Day presented real engagement and awareness opportunities for brands.
“COVID-19 drastically impacted the world of dating and romance,” he said.
“Singles had to change the way they looked for love and relationships, while the closure of bars and restaurants meant more people were seeking opportunities for romance online or in front of the TV with a good movie.
“As Valentine’s Day 2021 approaches, advertisers should harness the demand for digital and streaming, and plan to reach consumers on every screen. Brands need to consider OTT and mobile as part of their marketing strategy, given their growth and engagement. This year, we’re predicting a huge demand for personalised gifts and women wanting to give something special to their partner. These emerging markets present opportunities for retailers and brands to reach new audiences and build engagement and revenue.”
*Methodology: MiQ looked at a variety of data sources for January-February 2021 and January-February 2020, including log-level integrations with Appnexus, ad interaction data, and viewing data collected from opted-in TVs in the United States and Australia through our partnerships with Inscape, Gracenote, and Samba.
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