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Nielsen: Atlantans Especially Sweet On Chocolate For Valentine's Day

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- U.S. consumers shower their sweethearts with chocolate candy for Valentine's Day, with retail sales expected to top more than $323 million during the holiday week, according to The Nielsen Company here. Valentine's week ranks No. 1 for chocolate candy sales, and places third for all candy sales, with consumers expected to purchase more than $414 million. (The week ending Feb. 17, 2007 showed total sales of $322.7 million for chocolate candy in U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart.)

"Shoppers head straight to the candy aisles to express their love on Valentine's Day," said Todd Hale, s.v.p./consumer & shopping insights, Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. "While chocolate candy sales are particularly strong during Valentine's week, we see healthy sales for all candy during this time, placing third after Halloween and Easter."

Nielsen's analysis of supermarket sales in 52 U.S. markets shows that consumers in Atlanta buy the most chocolate candy during Valentine's week, with consumers in that market buying 48 percent more chocolate candy than would be expected for a market of its size, followed by Denver and Cincinnati. (The week ending Feb. 17, 2007 showed total sales of $414.6 million for total candy sold in U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart.)

As for wine-related insights, Nielsen's research shows that overall sales of sparkling wine are slightly higher during Valentine's week, indicating that consumers buy fewer bottles but spend more per bottle. Similarly, overall sales of rose wine are down during Valentine's week, but sales of premium-priced rose wine (bottles priced $6 or higher) rise, signifying holiday splurges.

According to Claritas, a Nielsen service, its PRIZM segmentation system shows that a consumer segment called New Empty Nests (upper-middle income, older consumers with grown-up children who have recently moved out of the house) are three times more likely to drink rose wine during any given week. Other consumer segments more likely to drink rose wine are God's Country (upper-income, mostly middle-aged couples in spacious homes); Gray Power (older middle-class, home-owning suburbanite retirees), Big Fish, Small Pond (older, upper-class, college-educated professionals, often leading citizens of small-town communities; and Winner's Circle (mostly 25- to 44 year-old couples with large families in new-money subdivisions).

Perhaps as a result of Valentine's Day romance, more pregnancy and infertility test kits are sold approximately six weeks after Valentine's Day than at any other time of the year. Consumers spend more than $15 million on pregnancy and infertility test kits during the second, third, and fourth weeks of March, with the third week of March ranking No. 1 in sales. (The week ending March 24, 2007 showed total sales of $15.4 million for pregnancy and infertility test kits in U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandiser stores, including Wal-Mart.)

For all the singles looking for love or just a date on Valentine's Day, Nielsen Monitor-Plus shows overall advertising spending by dating services increased 9 percent between January and October 2007 compared with the same time period in 2006, reaching $379.6 million. The majority of ad spending dollars was focused on three specific media: Internet ($134.0 million), national cable TV ($107.2 million) and network television ($22.9 million). National magazines came in a close fourth with $21.0 million in ad spending, nearly doubling its spending from $11.1 million in 2006. Network television also saw a significant rise in spending, increasing 52 percent to $22.9 million. Interestingly, only one dating service advertised in national newspapers in 2006, But in 2007,'s ad spending was entirely online, with no other dating service placing ad dollars in national newspapers for the January-October 2007 time period.

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