Happy Galentine’s Day: The Empowering Holiday Powers Beauty Purchases

Three years ago, Boxfox assembled Galentine’s Day offerings without much expectation for how they’d do. COO and co-founder Sabena Suri figured the unofficial holiday gave the personalized gift box company a chance to applaud women and differentiate its selection, which was then new to the market.

The bet on BFFs paid off. In 2017, Galentine’s Day purchases at Boxfox outpaced Valentine’s Day purchases 60% to 40%, and there are no signs that gal pal gifting will abate this year. “We have shifted the focus to Galentine’s,” says Suri. “It’s increasing in popularity because people are realizing that female friendships are so important to our lives, and we should really recognize that. In a lot of ways, female friends are as additive to our lives as romantic relationships.”

Galentine’s Day can also be additive to the bottom line. Beauty brands, retailers, e-commerce sites and spas are positioned to take advantage of it because they specialize in products women enjoy buying for each other, events tailored to women and women-centered messages that reflect the holiday’s philosophy. Galentine’s Day dates back to a 2010 episode of the television series “Parks and Recreation” during which Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope acknowledges her girlfriends with a brunch on Feb. 13.

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“There is huge market for Galentine’s Day, and it’s a huge opportunity,” says Suri. “Brands can obviously capitalize on it in so many ways. If you’re a gifting company, having gift options for the day is great. If you’re a retail company, you can find family-friendly ways to celebrate it. Even if you aren’t traditionally in the space, there are ways to bring women together for your offerings.”

Galentine’s Day sparks a demand for items across the beauty spectrum that hasn’t been fevered for Valentine’s Day. While the traditional lovers holiday affects beauty businesses — fragrance sales, in particular, get a bump — beauty hasn’t been a leading beneficiary of Valentine’s Day activities. According to the National Retail Federation, candies, cards, flowers and dinner tabs are the top Valentine’s Day expenditures. The organization forecasts revenues linked to the holiday will surge 7% this year to $19.6 billion.

Beauty entrepreneurs speculate that political and demographic forces underpin the surging strength of Galentine’s Day. The number of single people in the U.S. has risen 16% since 2006 to roughly 110 million American adult residents or 45.2% of the total population. Meanwhile, attitudes toward marriage have evolved. The share of Americans married is at its lowest point since 1920, according to the Pew Research Center, and people are marrying later. The median age for U.S. marriages is 29.5-years-old for men and 27.4-years-old for women, making brides and grooms today the oldest ever in the country’s history.

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For single women, Valentine’s Day can be a downer that Galentine’s Day assuages, at least somewhat. “There’s always this issue around Valentine’s Day of what do you do if you’re single. I remember feeling that way when I was there,” says Amanda Baldwin, president of Supergoop. She continues about Galentine’s Day, “This is something that people can feel proud about versus thinking, ‘Oh gee, do I have a boyfriend?’ It’s not just a negative take on Valentine’s Day.” Supergoop is spotlighting its Perk Up Lip & Cheek Treats SPF 40 kit for Galentine’s Day gifts.

Along with the population shift toward singlehood, the current push for gender equality and solidarity has provided Galentine’s Day a reason for being beyond blatant consumerism. “I see it in with my girlfriends. We are really lifting each other up through our careers and breakups, through everything,” says Ashley Bechtloff, marketing manager at Lalicious. “When you look at Galentine’s Day, it’s a day for love and women coming together to celebrate each other because not everybody has a significant other. That’s really empowering. There’s real credibility in the holiday.”

The emboldening elements of Galentine’s Day aren’t a stretch from the women-first principles key to many beauty companies that primarily cater to women. “We really aren’t using the holiday to sell products…It should just serve as a celebration of love, love for yourself and love for your girls who are always there, long after the holiday ends,” says Stefanie Walmsley, founder of Prim Botanicals, a natural beauty and lifestyle brand that sent out an email to its customers supplying beauty tips for Galentine’s Day as well as Valentine’s Day. “Plus, your girls will always text you back and will be more than happy to spend the nights in sweatpants with no makeup on with you: low-key, low-stress and so much more fun.”

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Although Prim Botanicals isn’t aiming to leverage Galentine’s Day to propel sales, Walmsley thinks the holiday bolsters business. Lalicious co-founder Jessica Kernochan ponders the holiday could do so by prodding women to purchase over a period where men frequently are the buyers. “We put together two different boxes for Valentine’s Day this year. One was geared toward women, and the other revolved around a girl and a guy. We sold a handful of the guy and girl one, and we sold a gazillion of the women’s one. There isn’t a ton of men going to our site to buy gifts, so women are buying women gifts,” she says. “It’s their time to celebrate, too.”

For retailers and spas with physical locations, Galentine’s Day motivates events. New York’s Savor Spa planned four events tied to the holiday. During a Galentine’s Day event Wednesday at its Upper West Side location, 40 attendees customized masks, and wrote love letters to deliver to friends and family. “It was awesome to get to know our customers and celebrate female relationships,” says Dani Burkowitz, an executive assistant and social media coordinator at Savor. “It’s a good business opportunity. If nothing else, it associates your brand with important core values and, of course, people getting to know the products and seeing them have a positive impact on their skin leads to sales.”

Boxfox is holding a pop-up at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles around Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day, and throwing an event on Tuesday to mark Galentine’s Day. “It’s a great opportunity to come with your friends, build boxes for each other and explore the different products that we have,” says Suri of the pop-up. She elaborates that women often buy boxes for multiple friends for Galentine’s Day, suggesting the average transaction values for the holiday is above those for Valentine’s Day. “They might buy six of their closest girlfriends around the country something,” details Suri.

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Stephen Letourneau, a partner in Cannuka, believes Galentine’s Day is energizing people to shop and fete their friends whereas Valentine’s Day can be a chore. The CBD- and Manuka honey-driven brand is incentivizing women to post Galentine’s Day pictures on social media with their friends and tag #cannukalove in the possibility they might receive an Outdoor Recovery Kit. Letourneau highlights the brand’s $144 Essentials kit with CBD Healing Skin Balm, CBD Nourishing Body Cream and CBD Calming Eye Cream as a great Galantine’s Day present for a friend who’s a skincare buff.

“I’ve been married to my husband for 14 years, and we do Valentine’s Day, but there’s crazy pressure to get into overcrowded restaurants, and it feels like another thing we have to do, but Galentine’s Day is fresh and fun. It’s exciting to think about what gifts you might want to give,” he says. “It breathes some life back into February.”

Baldwin predicts Galentine’s Day will only grow. “It’s so fascinating what’s happening in the consumer space. This wouldn’t have happened five years ago, and it’s a powerful example of what’s going on in the world,” she says. “The trends that are behind the interest in Galentine’s Day aren’t trends. They aren’t fads. They are movements. They are going to become more and more important in people’s lives.”

Galentine's Day

TAKEAWAYS

  • Galentine’s Day is a holiday that’s jumped from the small screen to the real world. It was featured in an episode of the television series “Parks and Recreation” in which Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope reveled with her girlfriends.
  • Cultural and demographic shifts are making Galentine’s Day increasingly relevant. There are more American singles than ever before, and the women’s empowerment movement has put a focus on women coming together to support each other.
  • Although companies are just starting to rev up Galentine’s Day offerings, early results are promising from products and events tied to the holiday. Galentine’s Day purchases outpaced Valentine’s Day purchases 60% to 40% last year at the personalized gift box company Boxfox.
  • Galentine’s Day provides opportunities for brands, retailers and spas to throw events where women are invited to have fun and celebrate their friendships. These events underscore companies’ women-centered messages and help them cultivate connections with female consumers.