Pandemic ‘threw a hand grenade’ into wedding planning process
The bridal industry, one of the many markets that rely on in-person customer experiences, has not been spared by Covid-19.
However, “snow mages, hurricanes, Covid, murderous hornets – nothing can nullify love,” said Kelly Cook, marketing and IT manager at David’s Bridal, during the last episode of the Glossy Podcast.
âIt’s a fun time to be with our business,â said Cook, who spent a year facilitating the purchase of virtual wedding dresses and bridal masks. She expects a 25-40% increase in marriages in 2021, “now that the vaccines are out and the country is opening up.”
However, the peak of the pandemic last year did not amount to a complete shutdown of the bridal industry. While “about 10% of brides have just called off their marriage,” according to Cook, “of the remaining 90%, about half of them have already moved their marriage this year. The remaining half have moved their weddings to the ‘autumn . “
For brides who got married during the pandemic, David’s Bridal was quick to adapt to their needs with solutions, like producing ‘70,000 [face] masks of all colors, âas well as improvements in its technology, according to Cook.
âWe have modernized and digitized our business,â said Cook. âWithin two weeks, we set up curbside pickup and set up virtual stylists.â The latter was made possible through partnerships with augmented reality company Vertebrae, as well as Zoey, an automated concierge system, she said.
âWe sold dresses for $ 1 million just by text message,â Cook said. “We couldn’t have done all of this if we hadn’t had a culture here of serving her and being relentless in solving problems.”
Additionally, David’s Bridal hosted his first virtual fashion show in May 2020. He has also found success with a YouTube Live channel “of nothing but wedding videos”, as well as new TikTok accounts and Instagram Reels.
Customers have also benefited from the changes, especially those who signed up for the company’s new Diamond loyalty program, which has gained 500,000 members since its launch seven months ago.
âIt’s not a loyalty program for the number of times you get married. It’s a loyalty program around everyone at your wedding, âCook said. “We launched it on December 8 last year and 55 people made enough for a honeymoon.”
As for the future of David’s Bridal, “the power of our store [is] to make everyone feel absolutely gorgeous and gorgeous in whatever they wear, âCook said. “The trend is people are going to want more human interaction and want to see more humanity in brands because we are getting so digital.”
The human touch of the bridal shopping experience is not fully reproducible digitally. Until life gets back to normal, Cook emphasized the importance of David’s Bridal “in partnership with people who make it happen. [wedding] easier process â, such as WeightWatchers, Black Tux, the popular Rustic Wedding Chic venue and micro-influencers.
âWe partner with the right micro-influencer, and we give them the product, and all the content is in their own voice and style,â Cook said. She said David’s Bridal had featured “employees, friends and family” in photoshoots, instead of models, since last year.
âIt’s genuine and real, and it’s representative of who we are as a brand,â Cook said.
Below are additional conversation highlights, which have been edited slightly for clarity.
The precariousness of marriage
âOne of the things we saw last year is that styles and trends have started to change. There was a precariousness of marriage, in general, but everything was not necessarily precarious. For example, we still had girls who got married in a “mini-money” and wanted the big ball gown, or got married in a big ceremony and [wanting] a little white dress with a 20 foot veil and high heels. The fun part is [that] the only rule of the bride is to break them. She can do whatever she wants. We had two women who got married and who were wearing our white suits. We had a guy who won one of our honeymoons – he was our seventh honeymoon winner – who wore a wedding dress and all of his male bridesmaids all wore wedding dresses.
The narrowing of the dress shopping timeline
âPlanningâ¦ is probably the biggest change, because for years and years the company had a history of getting engaged and two months later they got a date; a month later, she reunites with her bridesmaids; and seven months later, she gets married. It was this very lengthy 9, 10, 11 month process that exploded – a hand grenade was thrown completely into it. What’s interesting is – I don’t know if it’s a cultural change, because we were all at home for six or seven months, but – the planning process that narrowed didn’t come back. to what it was. With all the dates we have in our stores right now, about half of them are getting married in 90 days. It would never have happened before. It’s probably because we were stuck at home and now everything is going faster: we Uber eat our food, we do curbside pickup for our groceries, we go to the grocery store less. But I also think it’s because we have 300,000 gowns, and we have gowns available because we own our end-to-end supply chain. It was just a little accidental, all around, for us; we actually thrived a lot during Covid. “
Bringing the Wedding Dress Trial Experience to Salons Across America
âHow do you offer him this rich experience? It was our biggest challenge. How on earth can we give her all the emotion, love and excitement, beauty, laughter and tears? And [offer] all those things that happen on a date when you find a dress? How the hell are we going to do that when she’s sitting in her living room? So we set up virtual stylists [with] augmented reality. We had to find a way to bring her the dress, because that is part of the love when she sees the dress – [we needed] to fill this gap. So we partnered up with a company called Vertebrae and implemented augmented reality on our best styles of wedding dresses. Therefore [the bride] could actually pick up her phone, go to the dress on the website, hit AR and return the dress straight to her living room. What was amazing about it was that the photogrammetry process was so detailed that you could actually feel like you could touch the pearls. It wasn’t just a flat image; she could actually walk around in the rendered dress in her living room as a fully virtual reality experience. We thought at the time, âOh, this will be a Covid solution. It wasn’t like that after all. She loves him so much [that] we extended it to 300 references instead of the 150 we had before, and we extended it to shoes and accessories.