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Scented Candles, Lingerie, and Dating Apps: Valentine's Day in the Age of a Pandemic

How are people celebrating the season of hearts?
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Like nearly everything else in life, Valentine’s Day is going to be a lot different this year, no thanks to the pandemic. For better or for worse, celebrations for the day of love are going to be much more muted and low-key. But count on people to sidestep tradition in order to meaningfully express affection in this season on hearts. 

Ecommerce aggregator iPrice Group conducted a study on how the pandemic changed people’s romantic behaviors. Parsing through search data in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, iPrice recorded some interesting results, particularly in increasing online interest in romantic gifts and the rise of new dating apps in these Asian countries.

For one thing, it seems searches for romantic gifts spiked 57 percent in the midst of the health crisis. iPrice categorized “romantic gifts” into different keywords, with care packages recording the biggest surge in searches, reaching 238 percent. Clearly people were in the habit of sending care packages to their loved ones and friends.

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Photo by iPrice Group.
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One popular item classified under romantic gifts: scented candles, which had a 236 percent increase in Google searches last year. Searches for lingerie, meanwhile, also grew 82 percent. Whether people meant to give them as gifts or buy them for themselves, it’s clear these were some of the most popular items during lockdown.

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Searches for more obvious romantic gifts, such as roses and flowers, likewise experienced a notable increase of 123 percent and 83 percent, as did chocolates (at 50 percent), and bouquets (49 percent). iPrice did a previous study focused on chocolates and sweets in the region.

“As many young couples were forced to transform their relationship into an LDR due to social distancing, it is not a surprise that they’d be compensating by sending each other thoughtful gifts,” iPrice said. “We can expect the same behavior at a higher volume during Valentine’s Day.”

More dating apps

Turning to another front, iPrice also looked at search data related to single people, specifically those looking to meet romantic partners online and to go on virtual dates with. The company said it observed an increase in keyword results in relation to each country’s top five dating apps between February 2020 and January 2021. This means there has been a noticeable increase in suggested apps related to searches for dating apps in the aforementioned Asian countries during the pandemic.

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In other words, more dating apps have been emerging lately, which is likely due to the increased demand for them.

Photo by iPrice Group.

Taiwan is the runaway winner in terms of the surge in dating apps during the pandemic, at 194 percent. iPrice speculates that there has been a dearth of dating apps there and the country is simply catching up.

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Malaysia came in at second place with a 39 percent increase in dating apps, while the Philippines is at number three at 38 percent.

“This means that Filipinos now have more options to mingle,” iPrice said. “Well, at least online.”

Further to the study, the more popular dating apps, such as Bumble and Hinge, have also recorded an increase in messages and demand for virtual dates in Western countries.

How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day?

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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