Jan 24, 2022 - Economy

Brands let customers opt out of Valentine's Day deluge

Illustration of a candy heart with the words “Be Mine” getting deleted.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

More and more brands are giving their customers a heads up and the chance to opt out of marketing emails ahead of holidays like Valentine's Day.

Why it matters: Advertisements and promotions around holidays — particularly ones that celebrate relationships — can cause anxiety and depression. And we're bombarded with them: Overall, we've gone from being exposed to around 500 ads a day in the 1970s to around 5,000 a day now.

A growing number of retailers, florists, media companies and more are taking a thoughtful approach to marketing, trying not to inundate their customers with ads that'll hurt them.

  • Etsy lets people opt out of Valentine's Day emails and offers as well as marketing around Mother's Day and Father's Day. The feature was created in 2021, Etsy tells Axios.
  • Parachute, the bedding and home goods company, has the same opt-out feature for Mother's Day and Father's Day, Fortune reports.
  • In 2019, British florist Bloom & Wild gave their customers the ability to opt out of Mother’s Day emails and invited other businesses to follow suit.
  • Since then, more than 150 brands have joined Bloom & Wild’s “Thoughtful Marketing Movement” including The Telegraph, stationery company Paperchase and restaurant chain Wagamama.

The big picture: When brands do this, they appear empathetic, says Susan Dobscha, a marketing professor at Bentley University.

  • "The new buzzword now is sincerity," she says. "Does a business appear sincere?"
  • Offering consumers the option to opt-out also builds trust, says Dobscha. "Consumers feel more in control."
  • All this is becoming even more important for businesses as trust in leaders and institutions craters.

What to watch: Look for even more brands to collect insights on which holidays their customers celebrate — just like they keep track of demographic and geographic data — and use those insights to target their marketing.

  • For example, Valentine's Day celebrations have steadily declined over the past decade in the U.S., with only 52% of respondents planning on observing the holiday in 2021, down from 63% in 2009.
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