For decades now, Japan’s special take on Valentine’s Day protocol has been well established. Whereas in the West, the day is marked by the giving of presents to that one very special someone, in Japan, the lead up to February 14 sees women flood chocolate shops in search of treats for everyone from co-workers and friends to, yes, lovers. Then, precisely one month later, it’s the men’s turn to give something in return – again to their colleagues, friends and special others. March 14, or “White Day” as it’s known, was initially picked out for the purpose by Japanese confectioners back in the late 1970s.
Naturally, that pattern is unchanged in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean the tradition stands still. A new poll by Rakuten Research reveals that millennials, in particular, are bringing their own flavor to the festival of romance.
First of all, it appears that millennials are the only age-group among whom participation in Valentine’s Day is actually increasing. Rakuten Research found that as many as 75% of women in their 20s intend to give gifts this year – 8 percentage points more than when the same survey was conducted last year. Interestingly, that increase bucks an overall trend of declining participation in Valentine’s Day. Rakuten Research found that just 51.8% of all women intend to give presents this year – 8 percentage points fewer than last year.
And, most interesting of all is that fact that a large number of those millennial women intend to hand-make their gifts themselves. 45.6% of gift-givers in their 20s and 35.9% of those in their 30s intend to take the do-it-yourself option. Those numbers compare with roughly 10% of women in their 40s and 50s, and just 3% of women in their 60s saying they would make their gifts themselves. In a country where presentation has always seemed to be paramount, millennials now seem to value the personal touch as well.
Meanwhile, for men in Japan, Valentine’s Day appears to be a mixed bag, with only a 0.2 percentage point difference between those who want to receive chocolates (43.6%) and those who don’t (43.4%). The popularity of the event also seems to be waning slightly, with the percentage of men overall wanting to receive chocolates dropping 1 percentage point compared to last year.
Chief among the reasons cited by those who don’t want to receive chocolates is the expectation that, come White Day, they’d have to do something in return. Their top reasons were “giving something in return is a hassle” (44.2%) and “giving something in return costs money” (16.6%).
But thankfully, romance in Japan is not dead quite yet, as the men who want to receive chocolates do it not only because they happen to like chocolates and sweets (36.7%), but because they see it as a chance to “understand the feelings of the person who gave the chocolate” (22.5%) and to spend some time with a friendly member of the opposite sex (“It’s an opportunity to interact with women” (16.1%)).