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Major holidays are a major opportunity for consumer brands operating in the US, but the excitement surrounding Western holidays does not always extend around the globe.  With Valentine’s Day less than two weeks away, how can marketers manage risk and foster a healthy relationship with their audience?

Love in different languages

We used our social media listening platform to analyze two emerging markets – India and Mexico. In Mexico, conversation around Valentine’s Day is 77% positive, with clear evidence of sentiment-driven consumer behaviors. Comprar (“to buy’’) dominates the behavior cloud, with recibir (“to receive”) appearing prominently, too.

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It gets more interesting when we use social media monitoring tools to look at brand mentions. YouTube is huge, and other social platforms are not far behind. There’s a lot of chatter around brands popular with younger demographics, with One Direction, WhatsApp and Nutella all making notable appearances. But while this gives us a broad indication of the most engaged demographic, it’s not enough.

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Psychographics allow marketers to segment their audience further. “Young Mexicans who have a positive opinion of Valentine’s Day” is just a starting point.

For example, Tweets mentioning Valentine’s Day and McDonald’s are generally humorous, and many relate back to a viral video about eating alone. There’s an opportunity here for consumer brands to create humorous video content for a segment of hungry single people.

Likewise, the number of video-related mentions – Netflix, YouTube, and 50 Shades of Grey – could provide inspiration for a segment of singles celebrating Valentine’s with a movie at home. To earn loyalty in the Age of You, marketers need to focus on creating meaningful, personal connections with consumers. Advanced segmentation is the most effective way to achieve that. Not everybody loves Valentine’s Day, and not everyone who’s single hates it – as proven by all the light-hearted tweets about being in a relationship with Netflix.

But while engaging single people with a sense of humor is one thing, being respectful of people’s political objections to a holiday is another.

 Manage risk with social media sentiment analysis

It’s not just singles that have mixed feelings towards Valentine’s Day.  In India, there’s a prominent conservative backlash against this Western import. Using social media monitoring tools to raise your awareness of cultural stances is the first step to producing sensitive content — and avoiding a reputation crisis.

While most brands are mindful of people’s religious beliefs, and tailor their festive messaging accordingly, non-religious holidays can be more problematic. Valentine’s Day being offensive is not something that will occur to most Westerners. However, if brands are to succeed in overseas markets, it’s something they must understand.

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Making up 56% of all Tweets with an attribute, the prominence of “Happy Parent Worship” indicates just how much resistance there is to the adoption of Valentine’s Day in India. Parents Worship Day was first proposed in 2012 as an alternative to the Western holiday, but was only officially declared last year.

Around 5% of behavior mentions proposed banning Valentine’s Day entirely. The notion of replacing Valentine’s Day with a second Thanksgiving made a minor appearance on the US analysis too, but the two markets’ motivations for boycotting the holiday are very different – and it’s differences like these that brands need to be mindful of when jumping on the holiday bandwagon. It’s not a case of consumers being pro- or anti-Valentine’s – it’s why they feel that way that brands must understand.

Consumer goods companies can use social media sentiment analysis to take a segmented approach to holiday marketing – to appeal in the right way to varying audiences. Breaking up with Valentine’s Day or going cold turkey on Thanksgiving isn’t necessary – but breaking down audiences into psychographic segments is.

Individualize your messaging

So how can consumer brands capitalize on a holiday that promotes consumption without offending those that find the very concept inappropriate? By presenting individualized messaging for each varying segment.

Instead of sending blanket messages about Valentine’s Day that might offend some – or ignoring the holiday altogether, which might make you look out of touch to others – you can provide the messaging that matters for each segment individually.

That way no one is offended, everyone’s happy, and your relationship with your audiences will continue to thrive.

Want to win consumers’ heart this Valentine’s Day? Arrange a demo of the NetBase platform and give your brand the gift of social insight.

Image from Jennifer Donley

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