For decades, the conversation hearts that are exchanged on Valentine’s Day have come stamped with classic messages conveying the sentiments of the day. While the original 1902 recipe for the beloved heart-shaped candies remains the same, the messages now also reflect our digital era: In addition to saying “BE MINE” or “KISS ME,” today’s romantics can urge their sweethearts to “TEXT ME” or “TWEET ME.”
The details of how St. Valentine became the patron saint of the day are murky, but it’s popularly believed that he was one of several Roman priests who were martyred in the third century AD. While awaiting his execution, the story goes, St. Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and wrote her a love note on the day he was beheaded, which was February 14.
Despite the mystery that surrounds our champion of love, Americans’ passion for Valentine’s Day is strong — and on the rise. An annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimates that total Valentine’s Day spending in 2018 will reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $88.89 on lovers and spouses, $25.29 on other family members, $7.26 on children’s classmates and teachers, $7.19 on friends, $5.50 on pets and $4.79 on co-workers.
In our multitasking, always-on digitally mobile lives, technology has also changed the way we send valentines. Twenty-nine percent of consumers surveyed in the NRF study said they would make their Valentine’s Day purchases online. And why not? With just a few clicks, technology lets us buy and deliver a gift without us ever leaving the couch.
But a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2015 confirmed that a closer connection is felt by the recipient when a gift reflects the giver. To ensure that their sentiment makes it through the noise of commerce, many people are finding that a customized gift is key. In fact, market researcher Technavio predicts that by 2021, the personalized gift market will hit $31.63 billion, up from $20.46 billion in 2016.
Now, new companies and digital innovations are cropping up to help us deliver more potent expressions of our affection. Here are some of the ways you can send a high-tech yet personalized message of love to your valentine this year.