Also known as Singles Awareness Day.
Also known as Valentine’s Day.
I don’t remember the details of when I first learned about Singles Awareness Day, but I do remember the feeling of acceptance to my very core. For a perpetually single woman, I finally felt like there was a new way to celebrate the Day of Love that represented my own truth. My truth being that the only Valentine’s Day cards I received were one from my mom and one from my grandma with a $15 check inside.
Not one single rose of the 224 million roses sold on Valentine’s Day would have my name scrawled on in beautiful haste. Romantic candle-lit dinner? More like a can of soup that may not even be heated up in the microwave.
Enter Singles Awareness Day.
No longer was I to be some cast-aside leper on the day of love. I was instead empowered to celebrate my singledom!
I could buy my favorite chocolates and moan in ecstasy with each chocolate truffle of Dove delight, whereas some poor sap was having to pretend she liked the lackluster chocolates inside a jumbo Russell Stover box hastily picked up at CVS. Instead of itchy and constricting lingerie underneath a red chiffon dress that shows the tiniest bead of sweat, I adorned fuzzy pink and red pajama pants with a forgiving waistband. My movie choice was rom-com after rom-com, with only my DVD player to protest, which was better than getting clumsily felt up by some guy with garlic breath.
Singles Awareness Day gave me back my February 14th. And fifteen years later, companies are finally catching on.
Valentine’s Day is a monstrosity of marketing
First, let’s do a super quick rundown of the marketing behemoth that is Valentine’s Day. All stats are courtesy of BalancingEverything.com.
A whopping 224 million roses are grown and sold on Valentine’s Day. Approximately 145 million cards are purchased and mailed each year. Americans spent $21.8 BILLION on Valentine’s Day in 2021, with $5.8 BILLION being spent on jewelry specifically on February 14th. Another 27% of US shoppers said they would buy a Valentine’s gift for their pet.
Considering that the true Saint Valentine was actually brutally martyred, leave it to capitalism to turn it into a day of romance.
Taking the above stats, think of all the companies that get a slice of the sweet chocolatey Valentine’s Day pie. Botanists, flower farms, and florists. Paper and card companies (hello, Hallmark) and all participants in the mail delivery service. Candy manufacturers and chocolatiers. Restaurants, vineyards, and wine merchants. Jewelers and clothing retailers (particularly those selling lingerie). Party supply companies, bakeries, and everything in between.
Want to know who also rakes in the money selling love? Advertisers and marketers. Even me writing this post to go up on this fourteenth day of February is deliberately planned.
Also, consider the timing. October has Halloween, November has Thanksgiving – and more importantly – Black Friday. Then December has the most consumerist holidays in existence. January has New Years, but everyone is too hungover to really pay attention. So the next logical holiday to market and monetize is Valentine’s Day.
But what happens when divorce rates are so high and jobs are prioritized over romance? What about all the single ladies? There is a huge chunk of untapped change just begging to be released into the economy.
SAD: Singles Awareness Day
Despite celebrating Singles Awareness Day for years, and even being the one to introduce my friends to the concept, I never put together the fact that the acronym is SAD. Funny enough, the year my friends pointed out that fact to me was my first year of celebrating Valentine’s Day. (And it was not all that it cracked up to be).
At its core, Singles Awareness Day is a day to celebrate you. Your singledom. Your freedom. You can wear what you want, do what you want and watch what you want. Even the day you celebrate can be chosen by the celebrator.
If you Google “Singles Awareness Day,” then you will see that it is listed as February 15 instead of the 14. This is because all of the chocolate and candy is discounted. You can find other articles that outline how it used to mean “anti-love” but has evolved to being a day for singles to celebrate their health goals. I say “tomato-tomahto.”
I always celebrated SAD on February 14 because I did not understand why my lack of a partner meant I was unworthy of spoiling. Do you exclude all non-Christian students from the classroom Christmas party? Certainly not.
To me, Singles Awareness Day is February 14. I would buy myself flowers, my favorite chocolates, and mix up a pitcher of peach sangria to drink while watching the movie Valentine’s Day (shout out to the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party). I chose to celebrate SAD by lavishing myself with all my favorite things. Others choose to celebrate by watching slasher movies and wearing all black. The point is, Singles Awareness Day can look and be whatever it needs to be at the individual level.
How SAD has been monetized (and how you could take advantage of this too)
There are loads of ways companies can monetize Singles Awareness Day, and in fact, already have. If they can make a militarized baby with wings bring in billions of dollars, I think they can manage to glorify unshaven legs and happily eating ice cream from the carton.
In fact, feel free to steal some of these Singles Awareness Day marketing ideas.
- Movie Theatre: Treat yourself to the movie YOU want to see, not the compromise.
- Jewelry: Because YOU are worth it.
- Bookstores: Book Boy/Girlfriends are better anyways.
- Florist: We sell more than just roses on February 14th. Treat yourself to your actual favorite flower.
- Clothing Retailers: We have everything you need to feel good about yourself. From fuzzy pants to power suits and everything in between.
- Restaurants: Bottomless mimosas and bread baskets for the singles
- Spa: Let your outsides match your insides. Glowing.
- Athletics: There’s nothing more relaxing than you and the road (or enter sport of choice here, i.e. ball, lake, lane)
And then, of course, there is the snarky humorous arc, which is my preferred arc.
There are even gifts out there for the techy single, such as this flash drive on Zazzle.
Want some more? Check out Seventeen.com’s “12 Anti-Valentine’s Day Gifts to Gift Yourself and No One Else”. I think my personal favorite is the necklace that says “Pizza.”
BuzzFeed also did a round-up of 12 Honest Greetings Cards for National Singles Awareness Day.
SAD is a worldwide phenomenon
The United States monetizes Singles Awareness Day, but what about the rest of the world? The Brits have certainly dropped a pretty pound on SAD, but other countries also participate in their own ways.
China: Singles’ Day
China celebrates Singles’ Day, and it’s a massive holiday. Originally founded back in 1993, this day falls on November 11, or 11-11, and is called “Double 11.” It started as part of an anti-Valentine’s Day movement, but since then, Singles’ Day has gained popularity throughout China and beyond.
Singles’ Day is a blockbuster shopping event in China, similar to Black Friday here in the United States. According to Rakuten Advertising, in 2017, Singles’ Day grossed $25.3 billion in gross merchandise volume. In 2021, Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba tracked $84.5 billion worth of sales on its online platform just on Singles’ Day alone, which was a $10 million increase from 2021.
While the November Singles’ Day is not as popular in the United States, that has not stopped American companies from adorning party hats and cashing out in foreign markets. Companies like Apple, Nike, and Adidas have all marked 11-11 on their calendars.
South Korea: Black Day
Celebrated in South Korea, Black Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on April 14 by South Korean singles. In South Korea, significant others share gifts with one another on Valentine’s Day (February 14) and White Day (March 14).
It is only fitting for the fourteenth day of the following month to be a day for the Single People, a day where they can commiserate in their singledom and lack of gifts. Well, at least that was the original purpose of the holiday. Now friends and family celebrate Black Day with black-colored food, indulge in comfort food, and spend time with one another.
For companies looking to make some money, and for singles who are ready to toss their hat back in the dating ring, Black Day can also be celebrated with speed dating events and matchmaking services. In the spirit of consumerism, Black Day is earmarked as a major spending holiday both for retailers and restaurants.
Various Countries: Friendship Day
Celebrating platonic relationships is not overlooked in many countries, each with their own dates of celebration for Friendship Day. India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, all celebrate on August 7. Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, Finland, Estonia, and the Dominican Republic all celebrate it on February 14 as well. South Africa celebrates on April 16, and Ukraine celebrates June 9.
July is a hot month for Friendship Days scattered about in Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Uruguay, and even Pakistan.
Each country has its own way of celebrating Friendship Day, and each has their own way of merchandising it as well. While not necessarily a shopping blockbuster, companies do not hit the snooze button on this holiday. BetterHelp shares that some countries celebrate with flowers or friendship bracelets, restaurants offer discounts, and companies look to upsell their customers in the gift-giving department.
Treat Yo Self
So there you have it. The article you never knew you needed all about how you can and should celebrate your singledom.
I’m now old and married. And you know what? I kind of (by a lot) miss my celebrations of Singles Awareness Day.
Now I’m the one having to make compromises on what movie to watch and I’m having to don the cute outfit when I’d much rather wear my stained but comfy sweatpants, order myself the flowers I actually want, and gab on the phone with my girlfriends while mixing a pitcher of sangrias. But then again, there is Galentine’s Day for that. Thank you consumerism, for always giving me an opportunity to celebrate something, regardless of my stage in life. At least the 20th is National Comfy Day.
P.S.: Fun fact for Parks & Rec fans – Treat Yo Self is all about Singles’ Day. Donna and Tom know how to celebrate right!