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Spending on Most Romantic Day of the Year Means Different Things to Men and Women

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On the most romantic day of the year, it turns out that men and women are thinking about the holiday – and buying gifts – very differently, according to new research by the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG.

The survey shows men tend to view Valentine’s Day as a holiday to pamper their significant others, girlfriends, or wives. They tend to spend more money ($116 on average), but primarily on one person. Women, on the other hand, tend to have a much different concept of the holiday. They are much more likely to “show love” to many of the important people in their lives, including children, friends, and co-workers, and they spend less overall ($77 on average), but on a larger number of people.

Men and women also differ in their perceptions of who makes the decisions regarding Valentine’s Day celebratory activities. According to the survey, women are much more likely to say that Valentine’s Day plans were a joint decision, whereas men are much more likely to say that their significant other made the decision.

The survey results also show:

  • Men tend to be competitive about Valentine’s Day. Men said they would feel unhappy and embarrassed if they found out that their significant other spent more on their gift than what they spent;
  • Consumers who plan to buy gifts for Valentine’s Day plan to spend $96 (on average) for Valentine’s Day this year. This is a 46 percent increase from what gift-giving consumers said they’d spend last year ($66);
  • Most people (84 percent of men and 87 percent of women) said they will buy a gift for their significant other, even if they had already agreed to forgo gift-giving.

“The data reveal that women tend to see Valentine’s Day as an occasion where they have license to show affection to all the people who are significant in their lives,” said Kurt Carlson, director of the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research. “In contrast, men tend to see the holiday as a time to focus the spotlight on the one person with whom they are most intimate. In short, the day means something very different to men than it does to women.”

“This survey clearly provides evidence of strengthening consumer spending, as well as gender differences at play,” said Alton Adams, principal, KPMG Consumer Strategy and Growth. “We’ve always known that Valentine’s Day is about one’s significant other. The fact that the data show a large portion of consumers purchase for multiple people in their lives – family, friends, even pets – is an opportunity that we believe retailers could be taking advantage of this holiday.” 

The 2015 Valentine’s Day Survey was conducted during the last two weeks of January to understand consumers’ shopping intentions and attitudes regarding Valentine’s Day. Respondents were drawn from an online sample of 943 U.S. consumers. To download the complete report, visit

About the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG

The Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG, develops innovative, ground-breaking research to illuminate the challenges and opportunities of understanding and marketing to consumers. Combining the academic expertise at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and the deep understanding of the marketplace found at KPMG, the institute seeks to impact business practice and improve consumer decision-making. For more information or to read the latest research from the institute, visit

About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders in the service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a world-wide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree or open enrollment programs. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter: @msbgu.


KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s member firms have 162,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 155 countries.