Love (and business) unlimited: Valentine's Day has gone global

Valentine’s Day is now widely celebrated all over the world: Majorities in most of 28 countries surveyed plan to do something special with their loved one this February 14.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
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A new Ipsos survey finds that, across 28 countries, more than half of all adults who are married, partnered, engaged, or involved in a romantic relationship are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. Possibly because of COVID-related concerns and restrictions, spouses and lovers in many countries are more likely to mark the occasion with a romantic dinner at home than they are to go out. Sweets, flowers, and fragrance are the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts globally.

On average, across 28 countries, 55% of adults who have a partner are likely to do something special for the occasion. Among them,

  • 41% plan a romantic dinner at home and 35% a romantic night out
  • 34% plan to buy or give chocolate or candy, 28% flowers, and 20% fragrance or perfume
  • 33% plan to make love

Most of those who do not plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day despite being in a couple argue that it is too commercial or out of step with their culture and traditions.

Globally, 89% report being satisfied with the relationship they have with their spouse, partner, fiancé(e), or friend. The United States is the country showing the highest levels of both overall partner satisfaction and likelihood to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Intention to celebrate Valentine’s Day

The countries surveyed where this Valentine's Day is most likely to be celebrated by partnered adults are geographically, culturally, and economically diverse. They include the U.S., South Africa, Chile, India, Turkey, Mexico, Poland, and China. Across the 28 countries, Valentine’s Day is least widely observed in the Netherlands, South Korea, and Germany.

Younger people in a relationship are more likely to mark the day than are their elders: on average globally, 68% of those under age 35 plan to do so vs. 55% of those aged 35-49 and 45% of those aged 50-74. Consistently, those who are not married are more likely to celebrate with their loved one than those who are (61% vs. 52%).

How lovers celebrate

Among those who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, 41% on average globally plan to have a romantic dinner at home, 35% to have a romantic night out (restaurant, movie, theater, concert, etc.), and 33% to make love.

  • Having a romantic dinner at home is most popular in Russia (55%) and Canada (54%) where the day is often accompanied with frigid temperatures.
  • The countries where couples are most likely to go out to celebrate, Peru and Colombia (both 47%) followed by Argentina and South Africa (both 45%), are all in the Southern Hemisphere where Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of summer.
  • The countries where Valentine Day’s is most often celebrated by making love are South Africa (54%), Argentina (46%), Mexico (45%), Colombia and the United States (both 43%), Brazil (42%), and France (40%).
  • Predictably, younger adults who have a valentine are more likely to go out or make love (both mentioned by 41% of those under 35 vs. 24% and 29%, respectively, among those aged 50-74). Men are slightly more likely to plan on making love on February 14 than are women (36% vs. 30%)

Globally, chocolates or candy are the most common type of gift (34% of those who plan to celebrate intend to buy or give some), followed by flowers (28%), fragrance (20%), wine or liquor (16%), fashion accessories or jewelry (16%), and lingerie or erotic accessories (11%).

These are the countries where each of the top three categories is most popular:

  • Chocolate and candy in Japan (75%), South Korea (61%), and Mexico (47%)
  • Flowers in India (46%), Sweden (38%), the Netherlands and Turkey (both 37%), and China (34%)
  • Fragrance and perfume in Saudi Arabia (32%), India (29%), South Africa (28%), and Brazil (27%)

Men are much more likely than women to give flowers to their valentine (42% vs. 15%), slightly more so to give fragrance (22% vs. 17%), and equally likely to give sweets (34% vs. 33%).

Globally, those who mark Valentine’s Day are equally likely to text or post special messages on social media and to send cards (17% each).

  • Texting or posting messages is most common in Mexico (36%) and, more generally, among those under 35.
  • Sending cards is most common in Great Britain (43%). The propensity to send Valentine’s Day cards is nearly the same across all age groups.

Why not celebrate?

The primary reasons offered by those who do not plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day despite having a significant other or special friend are that it is too much of a commercial or marketing event (47% on average globally) and that “it is not part of my culture and traditions” (37%). Fewer argue that it is too expensive/they can’t afford it (11%), they don’t have the time/they are too busy (10%), and that it is “too old-fashioned” (10%). Only 6% say they are not familiar with it.

  • The view that it is too commercial is the most common argument of those who won’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in Belgium (75%), Great Britain (69%), Australia (67%), and France (66%), and more generally among older adults (53%).
  • The feeling that it is too foreign to their culture and traditions is the most common reason given in Saudi Arabia (72%), Russia (71%), Colombia (68%), and Malaysia (66%) by those who will not celebrate it with their partner. Globally, it is mentioned by men more than it is by women (42% vs. 33%).

Happy couples

Ahead of the annual celebration of love, the survey finds that vast majorities of those who are in a couple say they are satisfied with their relationship – 89% on average globally, including 61% who say they are very satisfied and 28% somewhat satisfied.

  • Overall satisfaction is most prevalent in the United States (94%), followed by Argentina, China, and Mexico (93%), and by Colombia, Great Britain, India, the Netherlands, and South Africa (92%). Except for the Netherlands, these countries are among those where Valentine’s Day is most widely celebrated. The range in overall satisfaction between the countries where it overall partner relationship satisfaction is highest (the U.S.) and lowest (Japan with 75%) is relatively narrow – only 19 percentage points.
  • However, there is a wide gap of 51 points between the percentage of those saying they are “very satisfied” with their relationship in Argentina (79%) and in Japan (28%).
  • Globally, men are slightly more likely to be very satisfied with their relationship than are women (64% vs. 59%). So are partnered adults under 35 (65%) compared to those in the 35-49 and 50-74 age groups (59% and 60%, respectively).
These are the results of a 28-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. For the survey, Ipsos interviewed 19,987 adults who are aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 23 other markets between December 23, 2021 and January 7, 2022.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US

Society