Gen Z & Valentine’s Day | Your Ultimate Marketing Guide

Alex Haider

Love Island is back on the telly, Miley Cyrus has released something of an iconic diss track towards Liam Hemsworth and you’re seeing an alarming amount of plush teddy bears in window displays. This can only mean one thing: February is approaching, and every lover’s favourite date is chasing hot on its heels.

In this article, we’ll outline how to capture the hearts and spending power of Gen Z this Valentine’s Day, looking at what exactly this day means to them, how they’re celebrating, what platforms they’re using and some of last year’s stand-out campaigns. 

It’s all about the besties

Valentine’s Day might be dubbed as the most romantic day of the year – but romance isn’t always dependent on another person! In fact, self-love and other forms of love are just as important for Gen Z. Insights revealed through Plenty of Fish’s 2022 campaign ‘Be Single Not Solo’ saw 43% of Gen Z singletons maintaining that Valentine’s Day should evolve to celebrate forms of love that aren’t just romantic – including friendship, family love and self-love. 

Equally, ‘Galentine’s Day’ has become a popular alternative to the eponymous (and occasionally dreaded) V-Day. Galentine’s Day (coined by Amy Poehler’s iconic character in Parks and Recreation) sees women around the world gather together to celebrate sisterhood, honour their friendships and just have an all-round cracker of a time together.

Galentine’s Day is all about embracing the gaps your friends fill (romantic or not), and sees several big events taking place to mark the occasion, with Bumble hosting a BFF brunch last year and nationwide screenings of cult female classics such as Legally Blonde and Mean Girls showing at Everyman cinemas in 2022.


Bumble Honey Galentine’s Day photo shoot to kick off the semester! @bumble

♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

Inclusivity is a must

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day has had a very taut target audience: straight people. 

Previous marketing has centred around reaching straight and cisgender individuals – but the tide is changing, and Gen Z are leading this shift as they challenge the brands that get it wrong and actively seek out companies who reflect inclusivity in their marketing. Valentine’s Day takes place during LGBTQ history month in the UK: a time where brands will be looking to demonstrate their allyship. To reach Gen Z audiences, follow through with actions and not just words, and demonstrate your support through external marketing campaigns. 

One example is cosmetic giant Lush’s previous Valentine’s Day campaign. Lush released a Valentine’s Day advert featuring same-sex couples sharing a bath and using their products, alongside the caption “Our Valentine’s Day goodies are even better when you’ve got someone to share them with”.

The reaction online was overwhelmingly positive, with many praising how refreshing the advert was amongst the traditional heteronormative advertising that usually characterises Valentine’s Day.

Voxburner’s Marketing Manager, Louise Donnelly, shares her thoughts below:

“Inclusive marketing for Valentine’s Day is crucial for reaching Gen Z, who are known for being loud and proud when it comes to diversity and acceptance of all genders and orientations. By embracing this inclusivity in your marketing campaigns you can connect with this wider audience and show them that your brand is one that truly backs their beliefs and celebrates love in all forms.”

Find your lovebirds where they nest

Recent Voxburner research revealed that a whopping 50% of Gen Zers surveyed were currently in a monogamous relationship with another person. The potential for your brand here is significant, as young lovebirds look to celebrate this topical occasion and shower their loved ones with gifts. Gen Zers are digital natives, spending most of their time online and gaining their shopping inspiration from apps like Instagram and TikTok – so start your advertising campaigns early and channel them to the platforms Gen Z are likely to be found on.

Brands who are advertising on TikTok should note that whilst this app has huge commercial potential (the average user opens the app 15 times a day!), there’s a narrow window of opportunity to engage Gen Z with Valentine’s Day marketing. Conversations peak between the 12th and 15th of February and dissipate fully by the 17th; so ramp up your campaigns early.

source: TikTok

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry

Gen Z’s sense of humour tends to be a little more ~niche~ than other generations. They revel in absurd and irreverent humour, turning the most unsuspecting of characters into memes (berries and cream, anyone?). They’re a generation that propelled the Duo Lingo owl and RyanAir plane to online stardom, and cherish brands who leave the corporate at the door and embrace good old fashioned silliness. 

To successfully reach Gen Z this Valentine’s Day, incorporating a sense of humour into your adverts is key. Cadbury’s 2022 campaign was an excellent example of this, deploying a humorous and unconventional advert that depicts individuals being offered the chance to win a holiday to an Island named ‘My Cousin’s Wedding’. So, when singles are asked the dreaded question around their Valentine’s Day plans, they can answer they’re ‘travelling to my cousin’s wedding’.

Genius, we reckon.

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