- - Monday, February 13, 2012

Their product line, touted in a flood of commercials on cable news channels and ad spots on talk radio this time of year, may include the toasty-warm Leopard Skin Hoodie-Footie and the slinky Midnight Fantasy Baby Doll Tap Set, but the marketers at PajamaGram Co. have no illusions about the gender of their target customer base.

“During our biggest holidays - Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Mother’s Day - our marketing efforts are targeted primarily to men,” said Wendy Duval, spokeswoman for Vermont Teddy Bear Co., parent company to the Shelbourne, Vt.-based PajamaGram. “We provide them with a great last-minute gift idea that’s fun and comfy, in addition to practical.”

As ubiquitous as campaign ads in the run-up to Election Day, ads for florists, candy makers, jewelers and specialty pajamas manufacturers all ramp up in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, and all for the same reason: There’s a lot of business to be done in a very limited period of time.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGinsight, consumers are projected to spend $17.6 billion this year, almost 8.5 percent higher than last year and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history.

U.S. consumers will spend $4.1 billion on jewelry, $3.5 billion on dining and entertaining, $1.8 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on clothing and $1.1 billion on gift cards this Valentine’s Day season, according to the retail federation’s numbers.

On the annual retail calendar, Valentine’s Day ranks third in spending, bested only by the late summer back-to-school rush at $68.8 billion and the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas holiday rush at $471.5 billion.

For companies such as PajamaGram, a good chunk of the year’s total sales come in the first two weeks of February.

The PajamaGram Co. formed out of its sister company, Vermont Teddy Bear Co., in 2002, when Irene Steiner, the company’s vice president of marketing, then eight months pregnant, showed up to work in pajamas in an attempt to remain comfortable. After the humorous incident, the idea to give gifts that help loved ones relax in the form of pajamas took off.

And though the product line is geared to women, the marketing is not.

Studies show that the average male is expected to spend about $169 on his significant other for Valentine’s Day, nearly twice the $85 that females are expected to spend.

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