Valentine's Day and the growing business of love


February 14 is a special day for many people. The love birds, the prospective love birds and the dreamy ones too. The other group of people that is happy and busy making plans for Valentine's Day is the business community figuring out how it can take money out of your wallet and toy with your emotions while selling you novelty gift items. It all started out as a day to honour Juno,the goddess of marriage on February 14, and the Feast of Lupercalia ,a festival to celebrate harvest and honour the Gods Lupercus and Faunus is celebrated on February 15.

A custom followed at this festival was the pairing of boys and girls. The names of the girls were written on paper slips and placed into jars. Young men used to draw out the names and were paired with the girl whose name was on their slip. If the relationship worked then they would marry or else they could try their luck next year. This custom led to what the Valentine's Day is now famous for. Another story which adds to the celebration is the execution of Saint Valentine.

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Over the years, Valentine's Day has turned into a heart-shaped shopping festival with novelties selling like hot cakes and has spawned a new industry. Be it at parks or movie theatres, one can see raised prices everywhere. The flower industry has been seeing a periodic boom, all thanks to this one occasion.

While national festivals like Republic Dayand Independence Day focus on big-ticket household items like TV, washing machine, refrigerator and more, Valentine's Day allows nifty gifts to shine and people flood the markets with them.

Keyrings that generally cost less than Rs 100 will sell for Rs 300 to Rs 500. Bouquets range upwards of Rs 500. A single rose,which costs Rs 15 on normal days, costs around Rs 60 in the month of Feb. It is quite evident that love doesn't come by chance on a single day. However, the play of words using hoards of advertising campaigns is not something which is uncommon.

According to a survey by National Retail Federation on Valentine'sDay spending, over 50 per cent of US citizens celebrate Valentine's day, thereby spending an average of $146.84 on items like flowers, candies and apparel. The overall spending on Valentine's day in US is expected to reach $ 19 billion, signifying the market. Unfortunately, no public figures are available for India, UK, Australia or for the rest of the world.

When it comes to flowers, red roses are on the top of preference list, with over 63 per cent of people buying red roses for the occasion. In the US, Valentine's Day is known to be the top holiday for florists, after which jewellery stores and greeting cards companies make a killing, with around 20 per cent of the people planning to gift jewellery and nearly half giving greeting cards to their significant other.

YourStory spoke to Faraaz Ahmed, Director, Tanflora Infrastructure Private Ltd, which holds one of the largest greenhouse rose-growing facility in Asia, with over 230 acres of farms near Bengaluru. Faraaz tell us that Valentine's Day is one of the most exciting times for their business. They are often able to achieve over 10 times their monthly sales in the Valentine's week. Due to the rising demand for flowers, the cost also rises, and a normal stem which generally sells for Rs 8 is often sold for Rs 25 at their end. While when it comes to retailers a normal rose stem which costs Rs 12 goes up to Rs 100 during this time.

However, things are not so rosy when Valentine's Day falls on a weekend, as sales takes a beating with most corporate offices being closed and corporate gifting probably given a miss.

Indian startups also have a great time, as some brands come up with their creative offerings. ExcitingLives has come up with 'naughty' offerings for Valentine's day. On the other hand, moral policing groups take couples in public to task as they start feeling a sense of responsibility to discipline the country's youth. When one digs deep enough, past the heavy commercialisation, transactions worth billions and moral policing, perhaps there is love to be found.

While you search for it, here is our quick jibe for the occasion.