- Millennials are splurging this Valentine's Day, with 58% of millennial men and 28% of millennial women committing to spend $100 or more on the holiday, according to a new dunnhumby survey.
- Chocolate stands to benefit as the second most popular gift, falling behind only greeting cards with 39% vs. 41% of consumers purchasing, respectively.
- About 30% of consumers said they'd celebrate the holiday by cooking dinner at home, though more than half said they'd be dining out.
Consumers will spend $1.1 billion on sweets for this year's Valentine's Day, a 2.6% uptick from last year and the highest growth rate since 2011, according to the National Confectioners Association. About three-quarters of those total sales will come from chocolate. Volume sales for chocolate, however, are predicted to drop 0.6% to 1.37 million tons this year, according to Euromonitor.
To come away from Valentine's Day with a sales boost despite volume declines and rising cocoa costs, manufacturers are pushing premium chocolate products, such as Hershey's Kisses Deluxe, which the company debuted last year to compete in this segment; Nestle's Cailler, which recently expanded distribution to the U.S. and other markets; and Godiva, which announced a new campaign for the 2015 holiday season that intended to make the brand's products more approachable and authentic.
U.S. plain dark chocolate sales grew 35% to $618.9 million in the five years leading up to 2015 versus 16% growth for plain milk chocolate, though milk chocolate still remains the clear leader in terms of sales for chocolate varieties, according to Euromonitor. Dark chocolate is often associated with premium chocolate products, a segment that has reported double-digit growth in recent years, according to Candy Industry. But dark chocolate also has perceived health benefits, which makes it more appealing to health-conscious consumers, the National Confectioners Association said.
Like other sweets-friendly holidays, like Christmas, Halloween, and Easter, Valentine's Day is a time of indulgence, even for consumers who are watching their sugar intake. Mars Chocolate North America president Tracey Massey believes confections are more of a treat rather than a typical food or meal, she told Fortune last July. This makes the segment more impervious to the fluctuations in sales other processed foods categories have seen in recent years due to the consumer health trend.