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Gen Z are getting creative this Valentine's Day

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    As expected, Valentine’s Day will look a lot different for Gen Z this year. Brands will have to get creative and think of ways to celebrate the day for Zers who are coupled up, for those who aren’t, and for those who just want something to celebrate with friends. Here are a few ways to get in on the holiday.

    Gen Z and Valentine’s Day: Pandemic Edition 

    As the world rounds the corner on a year of social distancing, here comes Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the most awkward of pandemic-appropriate holidays, for Gen Zers who lined up their Covid-bubble bae months ago, they’re set. For Zs who view the holiday in a less romantic way, they’ll most likely ignore it or show appreciation for friends in a low-key way. 

    So what will Valentine’s Day celebrations look like this year? How will Gen Z celebrate the day — or not? Gen Z Insights spoke to student members on the UNiDAYS app to find out what their vibe is this February 14. 

    Gen Z wants to go all out by staying in—and shopping local

    In ‘normal times,’ Valentine’s Day searches online typically involved categories like flowers, gifts, and restaurants. But this year, with social distancing, curfews, and most restaurants closed for in-person dining, Zers looking for a romantic date night out are going to get creative—at home. 

    Even with limited choices in what to eat and where, Gen Z still wants to wine and dine their SOs. While they may not be able to go out for a fancy, sit-down dinner, they still have options. This year, Zers looking for a romantic dinner and a fun, at-home experience are turning to meal delivery kits and ‘makeaway,’ along with the standby take-away order. 

    Meal delivery kits (think Blue Apron) have been around for a while. But with the pandemic forcing the food and beverage industry to make abrupt pivots to stay in business, table-service and fine dining establishments have joined ranks. Makeaways—meal kits of ingredients where much of the prep has been done in advance—are similar to meal delivery kits, but are prepared by chefs in kitchen restaurants where pre-pandemic, people came for the food and atmosphere. 

    Whether it’s a local dish picked up from a neighborhood restaurant or ordered online and shipped overnight, Gen Z can enjoy a chef-made meal while supporting the hospitality industry. Like Gen Zer, Haley who says, “I plan to get takeout from a favorite restaurant to share with my boyfriend. It’s a way to support a business and to show my boyfriend I appreciate him.” Meanwhile, another Zer whose girlfriend grew up in Maine is surprising her partner with a lobster bake from Maine. 

    Pandemic activities and curated gifts

    Instead of ordering a gift box pre-filled with nice but generic items, some Zers are taking the time to curate and assemble personalized goodies for their partners and friends.

    As it turns out, gift boxes check a couple pandemic boxes (sorry, we had to): “Putting together a cute gift box is a good way to kill time and it’s fun to see what unique things I can find for my friends,” says Gen Zer, Sara. “And it’s safe. I can make these small, thoughtful gifts and if the person isn’t in my bubble, I can just leave it for them in their mailbox or outside their door. It’s like a fun ding-dong-ditch.” 

    For those that like the idea of sending a box of goodies but find the task of curating too time consuming, there are options. BoxFox lets Zers easily pick and choose gifts from their online marketplace to make gift-giving ‘effortless and elevated,’ according to their site. They offer custom boxes; the option to build your own; and themed boxes, like their new Valentine’s Day collection. There’s always gift-giving OGs Lush and even Birchbox that offer similar services with themed gift sets and individual items. 

    Galentine’s Day before Valentine’s Day 

    February 13 marks Galentine’s Day, a ‘new’ holiday sparked from an episode of Parks and Rec that honors female friendships. It provides an alternative for Gen Z not interested in over-the-top romantic plans.

    Like Haley, who although she is celebrating with her boyfriend, says she “has never stressed Valentine’s Day.” Many Zers think the day is just a good opportunity to show affection to their loved ones, romantic or not. Lillian says, “Valentine’s Day seems pretty insignificant in light of the pandemic. That’s not to say, I won’t bake something to give all my friends.” 

    How to get Gen Z’s attention this Valentine’s Day

    Spread the love this Valentine’s Day, especially on your brand’s site and social media channels. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re a part of Gen Z’s consideration set, no matter how they choose to celebrate the day.

    • Create a range of pandemic-friendly date and get-together ideas. For some, this may be the traditional dinner for two (at home); for others, it could be a group video cooking activity. Include your product or service where it makes sense. 
    • What are your best-selling offers? Can you package it with a Valentine’s Day vibe?
    • Create a special hashtag (#PalentinesDay anyone?) and engage with Gen Z. Encourage them to create their own content and share it with the hashtag on your social media channels. 
    • Share the love and commit to giving a share of sales to a charitable organization. Promote this well in advance of February 14 and incentivize shoppers with a discount off a future purchase or contest. 

    How UNiDAYS can help 

    The UNiDAYS platform can help you supplement your Gen Z campaigns with discounts, deals, contests, and giveaways. To get started, all you have to do is create a new account, build your brand page, and start posting.

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