NCA's 2014 Valentine's View

Candy association's trends survey says Americans will choose chocolate over flowers this season

National Confectioners Association (NCA) Valentines Day infographic

WASHINGTON -- Americans overwhelmingly prefer chocolate instead of flowers (69 vs. 31%) on Valentine's Day, according to a nationwide survey by the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Women are a little divided on the matter, however, with 59% preferring chocolate compared to 83% of men.

The survey of more than 1,300 adult consumers also suggests that Cupid struck Americans with a love for caramel--it's the most popular flavor in a box of Valentine's Day chocolates with 34% of the responses. Chocolate-covered nuts also scored high (24%), with cream-filled (13%) and chocolate-filled (13%) rounding out the pack of top choices.

Total U.S. confectionery sales for Valentine's Day 2014 are projected to be $1.057 billion, a 1.9% increase over 2013. Chocolate makes up around 75% of candy sales at Valentine's Day.

"Americans have a longstanding tradition of sharing candy with family, friends and colleagues during the holidays," said NCA vice president of communications Susan Whiteside. "Valentine's Day is no exception, with 83% of respondents citing the February holiday as a top candy-sharing occasion. There's no question that sweet treats have a special place in everyone's heart this holiday season."

NCA's survey found purchasing habits have changed slightly compared to five years ago, particularly regarding health-related decisions; 28% of respondents said they are buying more healthy options, such as dark chocolate or chocolate with added nuts and fruit. Approximately 20% are buying more portion-sized seasonal chocolate and candy.

Other results include:

  • Price check. 22% of Americans are buying more of what's on sale.
  • Upping the ante for your loved ones. About 16% are buying more high-end or specialty seasonal products and packages.

Additional purchasing trends for 2014 point to the critical role that personal preferences, packaging and presentation play in consumer choices:

  • Like dating, first impressions count. Nearly 65% believe holiday candy should feature seasonal packaging and colors, such as red and pink for Valentine's Day. The other approximately 35% believe it's unnecessary to create special holiday packaging.
  • To thine own self be true. Personal preferences carry the most influence when purchasing a particular kind of seasonal candy--with price and family preferences following behind.
  • Kids: Try asking Dad. While almost 76% of female respondents say children have no influence on their seasonal candy purchases, only about 46% of males feel the same.

Respondents also shared how they enjoy the mental benefits of Cupid's favorite holiday and practice moderation:

  • Spread happiness. Nearly 62% agree that celebrating holidays like Valentine's Day brings happiness in tough economic times.
  • Indulge! About 74% of those surveyed agree eating healthfully can include the enjoyment of seasonal candy.
  • Trying to teach your kids a lesson in moderation this Valentine's Day? A large share of American parents will do it by giving a certain number of pieces per day until it runs out (41%).