As millennials settle into adulthood and Gen Z takes the stage, we’ve seen broad cultural shifts in traditional values like marriage, gender identity, and sexual expression. Gone are the days of self-conscious singles and traditional couples. These macro trends have sparked an evolution in the modern definition of love.
Valentine’s Day is big business for brands: in 2019 consumers spent a whopping $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts. But as the modern definition of love shifts, how are brands keeping up? We’ve collected some of our favorite examples of brands embracing self-care, gender fluidity, and sexual wellness to celebrate love the modern way this Valentine’s Day.
Self-Love is in the Air
Historically, being single on Valentine’s Day has carried a negative connotation, but that’s changing. Roughly 40% of Gen Z wants to find self-love and self-actualization before they find love in another person. In recent years, consumer behaviors are shifting away from single-shaming and toward celebrating independence and self-love. Last year, consumers spent roughly $236 on themselves on Valentine’s Day — more than triple what they spent in 2018.
Birchbox, a direct-to-consumer beauty line, tapped into this trend with its “You” campaign, a cross-channel campaign that promoted taking time to appreciate self-care and well-being. The campaign came to life after Birchbox surveyed consumers and found that two-thirds of Americans were not taking time for themselves. Birchbox successfully aligned itself with its consumers by using consumer data, becoming a brand that embraces the modern idea of celebrating self-love.
Breaking Gender Barriers
Younger generations are leading a revolution in how we think about gender and sexuality. New studies from Pew Research Center report that over a third of Gen Z knows an openly non-binary person, indicating that the landscape is shifting to acceptance and celebration of gender fluidity. Over a third of Boomers said that society today is “too accepting” of people outside the gender binary, while only 23% of Gen Z said the same.
Forward-thinking brands recognize that gender stereotypes won’t work on younger consumers. Covergirl set the tone in 2016 when they made James Charles the first ever "Coverboy." This decision to name a male the first Coverboy pushed the envelope on traditional gender boundaries in fashion and beauty.
BHLDN, a retail wedding dress brand, broke barriers in the traditionally binary world of weddings when they introduced a women’s tuxedo. By offering a traditionally male clothing option for women, BHLDN redefined what brides can look like on their special day to be more inclusive of any gender and sexual identity. Brands are starting to recognize the powerful platform they have to take a stance on social issues like gender and sexuality and through this, connect with their consumers in a more authentic way.
As consumers continue on a never-ending quest for wellness, traditionally taboo subjects like sexual health and wellness are increasingly de-stigmatized. The global sexual wellness market is expected to reach $39 billion by 2024. This new generation of consumers isn’t shying away from talking about integrating sex into their everyday well-being, encouraging brands to break the silence around sexual health issues and stereotypes.
Maude is a sexual health and wellness startup focused on changing the conversation about sex by creating design-first, gender-neutral sexual wellness products that speak to a modern consumer. Eva Goicochea, founder of Maude, realized an enormous white space in the $27 billion market and tapped into it with muted, pared-down products — far from the loud, hyper-masculine messaging and neon colors typically seen in the industry.
Roman, a digital health clinic for men, is dedicated to providing a place for men to talk to health professionals about their sexual health. According to Roman, 20% of men in their 20s experience Erectile dysfunction. Roman’s online prescription service and ED drugs offer a simple and stress-free solution to solve the problem for men with ED.
In a time where the concept of love is being redefined in so many ways, we applaud brands that are keeping up with the change. However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s filled with love.
Now get out there and treat yo’self!