The wedding industry in terms of customer budget, customer base and demographic, trends in spending, and channels for purchasing
According to the case study, the wedding industry has changed significantly since the recession in 2008, and its revenues fell by 4.1% compared to the year 2010; in 2007, the industry’s revenues were whopping $63.2 billion. The reduction in spending on weddings was because couples preferred simpler and less costly weddings, and thus, while in 2007 the average number of weddings was more than 2,180,000 and they cost $25,000, in 2012 this number declined to 2,080,000, and the average price of weddings also fell to $10,000 (Whitler, Farris, & Thompson, 2015).
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Furthermore, with the new trend of DIY-weddings, which perfectly fits the small-to-moderate budget of millennial couples, the overall budgeting of weddings continues to decline slightly (Schmidt, 2017). Such shifts in the wedding industry can also be explained by the fact that the average age of brides and grooms is rising: for example, in 2011 it was approximately 27 for women and 29 for men (Whitler et al., 2015).
The customer base and their demographics change too, and this is happening not only due to the rising average age of future brides and grooms. Millennials (generations Y and Z) prefer cohabitation before the wedding, which is the first reason behind their delay. The second reason is the financial instability of many couples, as some of them are still pursuing their degrees or working part-time jobs. The trend for low-cost and DIY weddings ensured that couples spent most of their money on flowers, decorations, and entertainment, as well as some specific trends such as the “cupcake craze” (Whitler et al., 2015).
However, couples do not spend less on wedding gowns, as the average spending per gown grew despite the decline in purchased units. The channels for purchasing changed, too. While there is data that brides find wedding agencies using offline methods such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and relatives, generation Z preferred digital tools, including websites and applications. David’s Bridal aim was to utilize the website to improve customer relationships and eventually create a purchaser out of a user.
The decision making process of a millennial bride-to-be for purchasing a wedding gown
The case study indicates that the way brides purchased wedding gowns also transformed: as they were working full time outside their homes, there were not many opportunities for them to choose the dream wedding gown the old-fashioned way, i.e., by looking for it in a bridal salon. The millennial bride used new technologies as sources for information (this way of collecting data specifically applied to the generation Z brides).
However, due to economic instability, millennial brides also considered other sources, for example, renting or borrowing, as well as purchasing used gowns (Whitler et al., 2015). These purchases could be conducted both through in-person verbal channels (e.g., friends and family) and online (via eBay and similar websites). Online text-based sources such as wedding websites were also used, together with bridal magazines (although the latter were not as popular). At last, wedding shows and social networks were also used to seek for the perfect gown (see Figure 1):
As can be seen, internet-based sources (online, text-based ones) were mostly preferred to other channels.
The DB website provides various services for future brides, including the catalog of dresses, where the user can adjust price, color, size, the length of the skirt (long, short, high low), the silhouette of the dress, etc. Additionally, there are posts and articles about wedding and bridesmaids dresses, and a quiz (based on personal questions) that will help the bride choose the perfect wedding dress just for her.
On Facebook, the moderator helps users find dresses posted in the community; the information about major sales is also posted there (as well as on Twitter). The Instagram account contains photos of various wedding and bridesmaids dresses, suits, tuxedos, etc. with the price tag as well.
The website also can create a Pinterest folder for users who have completed the quiz. At last, the DB application helps users to find a suitable wedding dress for their body shape, pick favorites, and even make appointments with the stylist or other wedding professionals in the nearest DB store. In my opinion, the website and the company’s Instagram account are the most used sources for the wedding by future brides, as the former provides various services and articles about how the wedding should be prepared, while the latter is a quick way for brides to pick a dress and find out its price without using the website’s plentiful catalog.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming support from users on Facebook (more than one million likes and followers), the presence in this social network seems relatively moderate, as regular posts are liked by the minority of followers. Nevertheless, there are constant referrals and tags in the comment sections, which contribute to the promotion of the company among future brides and grooms.
The provided information, wedding services, advice, and active support of users in social networks and on the website indicate that DB might be among the most visited and quoted company’s websites in the wedding industry because compared to The Knot, it only has fewer followers on Instagram, but DB’s presence is valued by users on all other social networks. Users actively tag each other in comments sections on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, thus increasing the traffic and attracting more unique users to the company’s services and encouraging others to come back to DB.
The approaches used to establish customer relationships
To establish customer relationships, Huth advocated for creating a website for brides that would help develop a more customized relationship with them. To do this, DB filled the website with useful information about the wedding (plans, tips, advice, etc.), and also created an interactive tool where users could try on various outfits, as well as post product reviews (DB were the first ones in the industry who provided this opportunity to customers).
E-mail newsletters were also used to keep contact with former and potential customers. Brides’ were also encouraged to share their positive stories, which helped the company battle negative reviews that were also present, although to a smaller degree (Whitler et al., 2015). A potential opportunity for the company would be a partnership with a large vendor (such as The Knot) or another company. First, this would help increase the customer’s base by attracting loyal customers to the newly established partnership from both sides. Second, such a partnership could attract other influential players in the industry, which would eventually be more profitable than expensive ad campaigns.
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Laudon, K. C., & Traver, C. G. (2014). E-commerce. New York, NY: Pearson.
Schmidt, S. (2017). The wedding industry in 2017 and beyond. Web.
Whitler, K., Farris, P., & Thompson, S. (2015). David’s Bridal: Customer relationship management in the digital age. Web.