Here Comes The Sale
In 2014, weddings are expected to be a $56.3 billion industry nationwide, according to The Wedding Report, Inc., a research company headquartered in Tuscon, AZ, that tracks and forecasts the number of weddings and related consumer trends. What should you do to reap the rewards of this walk down the aisle? Read on.
Whether couples are exchanging vows for the first time, renewing them, or at long last, able to legally pronounce their love, the result is the same: a cause for celebration. “When life is stressful, people want to celebrate the good things,” says Sharon Naylor, author of 35 wedding books, including, Bridesmaid on a Budget (Seal Press, 2010). And for gift shop retailers, this translates into lots of opportunity, she says.
This opportunity is expected to grow even bigger over the next two years with marriage-eligible millennials, ages 18-34, according to USA Today. The number of weddings this year is expected to reach 2.189 million and possibly 2.208 million in 2015. These increases are found to be concentrated among women ages 25-34, college-educated and affluent.
Bestselling products targeting the younger market at Roman, Inc., producer and distributor of gifts and decorative accessories in Bloomingdale, IL, couple both tradition and trend, says Eva Vanis, senior product designer for the company’s gift division. The trick for Roman’s largely traditional and religious demographic is being slightly modern with a wonderful sentiment, says Vanis, such as bling on a cross. Rhinestone accents and pearlized details can be found on cake toppers in their Language of Love collection.
“Our brides are mostly in their mid to late twenties, early thirties. Very few are interested in fine china, crystal and sterling for their registries,” says Susan Hamilton, co-owner of Pineapple Post, an upscale home furnishings, gift and stationery shop, in Jacksonville Beach, FL. “Instead, they are looking for dinnerware that is casual and durable enough for everyday use, yet beautiful enough to use when they entertain guests,” she says.
Brides are also moving towards low-maintenance materials, such as recycled aluminum, since it does “not require polishing to maintain its bright luster,” says Hamilton, as compared to sterling and plated silver.
Mariposa, manufacturer of handmade gifts for entertaining in Manchester, MA, serves the wedding market with recycled aluminum in the form of candlesticks, platters, cheese and cracker servers and much more. Their bestselling line, String of Pearls, features an oversized decorative bead on a smooth finish. “[Couples] can use these pieces for the rest of their life,” says Laura Mackin, marketing manager for Mariposa.
In the last decade, the gift business has shifted from a narrow range of traditional ceremony and reception items to a more diverse selection of products, says Pam Kraus, director of gifts and invitations for David’s Bridal, national bridal retailer headquartered in Conshohocken, PA. This shift is in an effort to express their own personal style in accessorizing their event, she says.
Along with traditional ceremonial gifts, Pinch Provisions, purveyor of premium emergency essentials, in Chicago, IL, has managed to package peace of mind. First released as mini-emergency kits for brides and bridesmaids in spring 2013, with 17 mini essentials, the Deluxe Wedding Kit is the latest edition to hit shelves with 101 event-saving items inside. Saviors include bobby pins, earring backs, breath freshener and even something blue.
Dress your display in happily ever after
Store displays become mini dress rehearsals of their own, a table set for dinner or a bridal shower in action. “One of the most successful displays we’ve ever done was for a bridal display contest for Mariposa,” says Hamilton of Pineapple Post. “Our manager put together a wonderful vignette of wedding gifts in partially unwrapped packages, as if they were in the midst of a bridal shower. Not only did we win the contest, but we had a hard time keeping the display stocked because customers kept plucking the ‘gifts’ out of the packages,” she says.
“It’s important to show a range of products within the displays in terms of price and functionality. This helps customers, as well as brides, who are deciding what to include on their registries,” says Hamilton.
When brides find a breadth of selection, they are apt to keep spending. This is a stressed-out, hectic customer looking for solutions, says Naylor. Providing a guiding hand will go a long way in additional sales and creating a customer for life.