Is Valentine’s Day a Marketing Scam?

Do you need a specific day to tell someone how you feel?

This article was originally published on February 13, 2009. I have come a long way since then and have had many enjoyable and unforgettable Valentine’s Day celebrations. For some reason this 200 word piece has sparked some interesting comments over the last four years. I wanted to highlight the female comments. Any guy that totally bashes Valentine’s Day, usually just hasn’t had a great one. Plus, most of us guys just hate spending money.

Do you need a specific day to show someone appreciation?

Do you need to go for a fancy and expensive dinner when you could cook some better food at home?

Why do hotel/restaurant rates increase significantly just because it’s February 14th?

After you ponder these thoughts you will come up with a clear answer in your head. However, some bad news for the guys- no matter what you do you’re not getting out of spending money on Valentine’s Day, sorry. If you’re going to remember anything about this article then remember this; you don’t need to spend a fortune tomorrow to have a good time, just do what feels right.

What did the female readers of Studenomics have to say about Valentine’s Day?

Suzie wrote in with some positive thoughts:

“I actually do think that Valentine’s Day has been exploited by marketing departments. It’s become hugely commercialised with many people having over-inflated expectations which subsequently cause rows because their partner is supposed to *know* that “I don’t want to do anything special” means “Please hire a horse-drawn carriage and book a table at The Ritz”. However, the essential core is a good thing, reminding us not to take people we love for granted and giving us an excuse to make them feel special.”

Jasmin was pretty negative on the holiday:

“In my universe, it’s pretty much always been 50%-off-chocolate eve. I’m the one always getting in trouble because I say “I don’t care” and actually mean it, and then he (whoever he is at the time) does something for me and gets upset that 1) I’m not crying from happiness and 2) didn’t do anything for him. I hate cut flowers of any flavours. I don’t consider dead plants to be representative of “eternal love”, and a waste besides. Get me something potted if you have to go that route. Buy me chocolate, if you absolutely have to, but for the love of everything do it the day after and catch the discounts. Save your time/energy/money/creativity for my birthday, which is the important date as far as I’m concerned.”

Oh and there are a few more passionate comments below. Check them out!

What do you ladies think about Valentine’s Day? Assuming that of course you happen to be online…


  1. says

    I dislike Valentine’s day. There’s so much pressure from everybody to do something special. I get pressure from the gf. I get pressure from coworkers asking what I’m going to do. I even get pressure from the students I tutor. Fortunately, we decided to just stay in cook dinner and use our anniversary, one week from now, to do the whole going out thing.

  2. Melanie says

    My husband bought me a valentine’s coffee mug. My response– “Oh, that’s sweet. I hope you got this at the dollar store.”

    Going on 19 years. Certainly not because of chocolate and overpriced hallmark cards. Though I do like chocolate.

    I also like your blog, though I’m probably too old for it. But I have a 17 year old son and I keep trying to get him to read it. He won’t, so I read it and somehow I manage to bring up almost everything you say in our conversations.

  3. says

    In answer to your questions:

    No, I don’t need a special day, but it can be nice to celebrate when other people are celebrating.

    No, again, I don’t need a special day, but it can’t hurt.

    No, I don’t *NEED* to go out, but it is nice to be romantic every now and then. (Although, preferably, not on a day when everyone else is out and the restaurants have two hour waits.)

    Because hotels and restaurants are run by smart people, and with the larger than normal demand for their products, they’re going to try to get every dollar they can from the love-struck masses.

    Is Valentine’s Day a scam? Probably about as much as any other holiday that encourages mass consumption on an annual basis.

  4. Peter says

    Valentines Day…what a joke?

    While i don’t believe that the day itself is a scam, the media have most certainly turned it into one. Simply put, if the media didn’t tell everyone to go out and do this and buy that (so they can profit) the so called “holiday” would cease to exist.

    Also, as you mentioned MD, why do prices take such a jump on February 14th? Meanwhile on the 15th prices are halved (give or take). If that isn’t a media scam then what is?

    If the true meaning of Valentines Day was to express love and gratitude then shouldn’t that be the other way around?

    As a marketer myself, I can see the obvious business advantages to such days. However, if i told you to that, for example, June 7th was ‘Crash Your Car Day’, would you do it?

    It is because of these reasons that I refuse to have anything to do with Valentines Day. When it comes to my partner, if she is unwilling to accept my beliefs then we probably shouldn’t be together anyway.

    I am proud to take the stance that I take about this “media holiday” and hold a very similar stance to other events such as Easter and Christmas.

    At the end of the day the only question that you should ask yourself is why should I do something special on that one particular day each year? Because the media tells you to? Shouldn’t you express your love for your partner every day?

  5. JennieB says

    I am every inch FEMALE and I will tell you this: Valentine’s Day is a huge MARKETING SCAM. Women can be real witches and retailers put the fear of God into all men by advertising all their jewelry, candy, and lingerie. In reality, the problem is that many women hook up with men who are inconsiderate buttwads because if they find a nice one, the women don’t get to boss them around and tell them what to do all day long. No being truly happy with the trade off they have made,the women then insist on having this one day a year go just right, as opposed to actually just finding a nice caring man who also makes the other 364 days a year lovely. Yes those nice men are out there–I have one–they must be treated with love and respect, not bossed around and/or manipulated. On Valentine’s Day, we will be fixing dinner together at home and watching a movie that BOTH OF US are interested in seeing BECAUSE WE ARE PARTNERS………….your roses will be dead by next week and we will still be having dinner together and having a nice life.

  6. mark says

    Fake. Insincere. Forced. Manipulated. There is nothing “real” about this holiday. If you love someone, you act on it the OTHER 364 days of the year, not the day you’re arm-twisted into it. Anything said or gifted on Valentine’s Day is, at best, suspect. Sincere? Please. I’m a retailer. I know first-hand the manipulation foisted onto customers to get them to buy stuff. It’s a consensus fallacy—everybody else does it, so it must be the right thing to do. Right? Think for yourself. Love your spouse but don’t be conned.

  7. says

    I agree with Mark and the rest of group here. You don’t need Valentine’s Day to tell someone you love them. Actually, it;s even sweeter if you give your special someone flowers any other regular day because it’s even more appreciated.

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