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The U.S. wedding market is a $60 billion industry across all product and service categories. Cue the entrance of COVID-19, and here come the brides wearing facemasks. While many couples put their nuptials on hold, couples who opted to move forward with their weddings during the pandemic inspired a trend of “mini-monies,” or small events with few guests, often in outdoor settings.
According to data from The Knot — a leading media and technology company that offers wedding planning information and resources — only 4% of couples have outright cancelled their wedding receptions entirely. Although the wedding industry is undergoing a makeover, 2021 is expected to be the year of the wedding comeback, with 400,000 wedding celebrations expected in the U.S. alone. Major wedding and bridal brands are pivoting their messaging, sales tactics and marketing strategies to continue to connect with couples during the global pandemic.
Tech, Mobile & Digital Tools Heavily Impact Engagement & Wedding Season Prep
Wedding marketing starts long before a couple walks down the aisle. According to WeddingWire’s 2020 Wedding Report, 45% of consumers begin planning elaborate proposals and ring purchases five months before popping the question. The report notes that 90% of engaged couples announce their plans to wed on social media, and the average engagement period is 15 months. During these 15 months, 88% of the wedding planning and related arrangements are completed online. Even before COVID-19, the wedding industry was going digital.
Here Are Some Ways Engaged Consumers Use Digital Tools To Plan Their Dream Wedding Days:
- More wedding research is done via mobile devices than via desktop computers
- 75% of couples use social media for wedding inspiration
- 64% of couples use at least one or more wedding planning app to stay organized
- 79% of engaged couples use a wedding website like Zola, The Knot or Wedding Wire to create a personalized wedding website
- 75% of engaged couples research and follow wedding vendors on social media and search engines
Although technology has been ubiquitous in the wedding planning process for quite some time, COVID-19 has propelled the use of technology and digital tools as couples seek to find solutions for one-to-one vendor interaction. Wedding and bridal brands are offering streaming shopping experiences by offering virtual venue tours, live video chat consultations and videos of products and services.
Here Comes The Bride… With Virtual Appointments & AR Dress Fittings
As more brides are compelled to say “yes” to the dress from home, bridal brands are innovating their approaches to connect with couples and provide high-touch virtual experiences during this time of social distancing. Founder of wedding-planning app Bridebook Hamish Shepard said, “For the fashion industry as a whole, this time [the pandemic] has led to great reflection on how digital shopping can still be an exciting and emotive experience.” In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Shepard noted that virtual appointments and digital bridal gown shopping will actually empower brides with more convenience, pricing and transparency during their transaction.
Leading bridal apparel brand Pronovias debuted virtual bridal consultations and launched a fully digital showroom for brides to tour from the comfort of their homes. The CEO of Pronovias Group Amandine Ohayon said, “In every crisis, there is an opportunity and, in our case, it has spurred us to drive the change faster than we could have imagined. In any case, the 'post-corona' world will not be the same, and therefore we need to reinvent ourselves with innovation, agility and creativity.”
Transitioning wedding dress shopping to a digital world may come with some emotional adjustments, but it also provides advantages to bridal consumers. Embracing a virtual shopping experience for wedding attire empowers brides with more personalized and exclusive attention during appointments, increased price transparency, optionality, convenience and exposure to more designers and brands than most brick-and-mortar showrooms could ever provide.
Registries Could Expand As Interest In Appliances & Kitchen Tools Grows
Couples begin to receive gifts way before they say, “I do.” 75% of engaged couples have a wedding shower in advance of the wedding date, and, according to The Knot 2020 Wedding Registry Study, 80% of engaged couples in 2019 created a wedding registry. Of the couples who opt to create a registry, 90% curate and manage them exclusively online. In 2020, the average cost of all the gifts on an individual wedding registry totaled $4,134. Bakeware, kitchen appliances, bedding, bathroom items and cutlery are the most popular categories most couples add to their registry wish lists. Many of these home categories are likely to continue growing in popularity for wedding couples as the rise of pandemic-related effects - like the need to cook more meals at home - ignites a rise in demand for these items.
Optionality and availability are important to most engaged couples, with the majority creating registries with a minimum of two or three different brands. Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target are the three most popular stores for wedding registries among couples. The Knot, Zola and WeddingWire allow couples to create curated online wedding registries for free, which can be used to shop for individual items or link to wedding registries from lists of hundreds of brands. Each of these wedding tech companies also helps couples seamlessly link their registries to their unique wedding websites. To compete in the competitive wedding market, last month, The Knot launched it’s expanded registry offering more one-stop-shop digital shopping options for couples and specialized collections with items suggestions based on lifestyle and interests.
Bridal & Wedding Brands Say ‘I Do’ To Innovation With Digital Marketing Strategies
Bridal brands must examine their messaging and adjust their marketing strategies to fit new norms. Brands need to review the in-person marketing tactics that worked in years prior and consider shifting marketing spend to enhance their online presences and online reach.
Consumers need to be able to find wedding and bridal brands quickly online. Just as importantly, consumers want to have easy access to reviews and testimonials that help them establish trust in brands - especially while in-person meetings remain limited. Strong social media presences and website SEO are essential for brands aiming to connect and convert bridal consumers.
Additionally, investing in data-based ecommerce solutions could be vital to wedding brands during the shifting conditions of COVID-19 and after. Wedding brands need to leverage their first-party data and develop a keener understanding of their target audiences to create lookalike audiences for future ad targeting. To drive conversions in a competitive market while more consumers are spending increased time online, bridal brands should consider a holistic digital marketing approach, inclusive of earned and paid media.
Technology and data will play a major role in the future of the bridal and wedding industry. Before COVID-19, consumers were already relying on online tools for their pre-engagement and wedding planning. The global pandemic has altered the traditional wedding in many aspects, but love is not cancelled.
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