Millennials Opt for Non-Traditional Spending on Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is coming up next week. Consumers are buying cards, candy and flowers. One group is spending significantly more than any other. According to a National Retail Federation survey, millennials will shell out $40 extra for February 14. And who they’re buying for might surprise you. Kristin Schwab reports.

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SCHWAB 1: Twenty-two-year-old Percia Verlin is in the greeting card aisle at CVS. It’s an explosion of red and pink glitter. Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” is blasting from the speakers. (0:11)

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((SOUND: Mariah Carey 0:09))

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SCHWAB 2: Verlin is Valentine’s shopping. And she’s going pretty far out of her way for a special someone. (0:08)

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VERLIN 1: I don’t know to ship to Malaysia how well chocolate holds up… (0:06)

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SCHWAB 3: Verlin’s lucky person isn’t a significant other. She’s sending the package all the way in Malaysia. To a friend. Because to Verlin, Valentine’s Day isn’t really about romance. (0:11)

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VERLIN 2: My peers and people who I’ve talked to, they don’t care about Valentine’s Day. Or they celebrate it in alternative ways. (0:10)

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SCHWAB 4: According to a study by Ypulse, a millennial marketing and research company, 70 percent of those ages 18 to 34 say Valentine’s is about friends and family. More than a third say they’d rather spend it with friends than with a date. Why? MaryLeigh Bliss of Ypulse says millennials are a generation that doesn’t like to follow social norms. (0:22)

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BLISS 1: They tend to think it’s an overrated holiday probably because they’re so used to how commercialized it is, that can really turn them off at times. So when they’re being told that they’re supposed to think about something in a certain way they’ll often reinterpret things to fit their own values. (0:17)

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SCHWAB 5: Millennials are independent. But, as anyone who has been in a relationship knows, the pressure to buy on Valentine’s Day can be ridiculous. It’s one of the few times of year retailers can get away with charging $8.99 for a card with singing bugs. (0:14)

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((SOUND: Card song 0:08))

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SCHWAB 5: Bliss says millennials can treat Valentine’s Day as a joke. But is it really only because of the marketing? Psychotherapist Katherine Lee, who specializes in millennial counseling, says no. There’s another reason. (0:12)

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LEE 1: Thinking about treating others on Valentine’s Day is probably a way to divert attention away from dating and the frustrations that go along with finding the one. (0:11)

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SCHWAB 6: Lee says millennials are waiting longer to get into serious relationships. Especially in urban areas where young people tend to be career driven. But dating is hard anywhere. And with that, Valentine’s Day can lose its luster.

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Back in CVS, Verlin has picked out a Star Wars card for her friend. I joke that she’s celebrating Galentine’s Day, a term millennials use to show affection for their gals. (0:23)

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VERLIN 3: Galentine’s. I guess I am doing kind of a Galentine’s Day. But I don’t really feel the need to call it that. (0:09)

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SCHWAB 7: Call it what you want. This 27-year-old reporter bought a card for that one and only Galentine: Mom.

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Kristin Schwab, Columbia Radio News. (0:11)

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