In Love With Consumerism? TikTok and Social Media Branding are Responsible (Editorial)


Myana Brown

Valentine’s Day items purchased from the store. Love is symbolized by heart shaped items.

Myana Brown, Staff Writer

In many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day represents the quintessential day of love and gifts. In an increasingly materialistic world, people are purchasing more and more every single year. The day was originally created for love, but companies have taken over and turned it into a money-making opportunity. 

According to Statista, American consumers spent 24 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day in 2022, compared to the 15.7 billion spent in 2011. That’s a considerable amount for being only 2 months after Christmas, in which Americans spent 889 billion dollars in 2021. As a society, we are spending more than we ever have before, but that money spent on gifts doesn’t equate to giving love. 

With the rise of social media, consumers are constantly bombarded with ads for Valentine’s Day gifts. The companies don’t even have to do the work anymore. Instead, influencers on Tiktok and Instagram are paid to hype up the products. Some creators even do it for free with the hopes of being noticed by companies.  People will see TikToks and instantly buy whatever the creator is showing. 

Trends like Stanley cups, Aerie flare leggings, and Ugg slippers and all over the place to TikTok creators hyping them up. It goes to show how vulnerable the average person is to marketing tactics. 

For Valentine’s Day specifically, items from Target are very popular. They have cute and cheap love-themed items. Creators have posted videos all over TikTok of the items they have purchased. They range from cute food items, to home decor, to clothing. The Target Valentine’s Day items have become so popular because of how cheap they are, most of the products don’t cost over $10. 

Even though creators do most of the work through sponsorships, companies still have marketing tactics that are hidden to the average person. The companies create a personality for their brand. It sounds odd, but it’s true. They post things that don’t look like they came from a company and they comment on people’s posts as if they were friends. The companies say things that are popular currently, such as “slay,” “real,” and “bestie.” That creates a parasocial relationship between the consumer and the brand, and the consumer begins to put a lot of trust in said brand. 

Apps and websites track what you have viewed in the past and then promote similar things in ads. The tracking of people is what makes consumerism so unpleasant. When you use or download certain software, you give them permission to see what you search up or even your device’s keystrokes. Then they use that information to give you ads targeted towards you. When you see something similar to an item you have that you already love, you will be more inclined to purchase that. Consumerism drives us to consume and keep consuming. 

As someone who is interested in marketing, I have a fair understanding of it. However, I still fall victim to the tactics that companies use. That’s why they’re so effective. I love how pretty the decorations are, they’re pink and heart shaped. I love, love, and I can’t resist buying seasonal items.  

Valentine’s Day is a gift giving holiday, one of the ones that target consumers the most. Partners go out and spend hundreds of dollars on each other, purchasing candy, flowers, stuffed animals, chocolate, and jewelry. The consumerism is obligatory. Meaning, the media pressures consumers to purchase as much as they can, they’re told that the more they spend, the more they love their partner. 

The original focus of Valentine’s Day was lost somewhere during the passing of time. Due to the fact that companies turned this into a consumer holiday where all people care about is spending money. However, we should begin to recognize this and change our ways. Spending less on Valentine’s Day and focusing on showing our love to people every day of the year.. 

But there are ways to break these patterns of consumerism. One option is to make homemade gifts. You can write your loved one a song, make them a card, or paint a picture. Junior Scott Montgomery says he would “bake a dessert” for a homemade Valentine’s Day gift. Another option is to focus on the time spent with them rather than the money spent. Quality time is one of the best ways to show love, and it could cost nothing at all. 

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2022-2023 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.