Wedding Season: It's Not Just About the Couple

Spring is here and for Gen Y, that means wedding season. If they are not getting married this year, you can bet at least one, if not more, of their friends are. As most of us can attest, weddings can be an all-consuming experience that becomes the sole focus of the bride, groom, family and friends -- from the second the engagement ring hits the finger to the moment the bride walks down the aisle. With $72 billion spent on weddings annually in the U.S., the wedding industry is big business and it goes far beyond the couple.

So, what does this mean for brands? Think beyond the bride and event day. Wedding season is a boon to marketers, with a highly engaged audience that is very vocal about expressing their opinions and recommendations. There are 23 million bridesmaids and groomsmen each year and each of them now plays a bigger role than ever in this life-changing moment.

Research shows that Gen Y favors a more do-it-yourself approach to weddings than generations past. They do a lot more of the research and planning and, with the help of the Internet, they are not limited to bricks-and-mortar stores and bridal magazines. In addition, with social media, the couple's circle of influence goes far beyond their friends and family. They are now sharing ideas, blogging, getting feedback and planning with people they have never met before and may never. This is a key period of time to capture this broader audience and turn them into lifelong loyalists and evangelists for your brand.



Take, for instance, the wedding planning process. As soon as the question is popped, the planning begins. During this period, women invest heavily in services, products and clothing that will help them look their best. This is a good time for beauty, personal care, skin care, hair care and fitness brands to reach out. This is great time to for high-end beauty brands to offer gifts for wedding party makeovers at the counter, which can easily be promoted and go viral in online beauty communities. This creates an opportunity to get a large number of women testing your products -- and we all know product trial achieves great ROI.

Some brands are already capitalizing on this. J.Crew, for example, recognizes this is a mainstream opportunity that touches everyone in its target audience. It has extended its line to include wedding and special event attire, which are frequently promoted on the covers of its catalogues. Post-wedding, the bride and groom start to settle down. Here they are laying their foundation, which typically comes with big purchases, such as houses or cars. This is the time for financial planning, automotive and real estate companies to target this group. Keep in mind, the goal is to reach not only the couple but those who influence their decisions, which is a much larger group online.

While it may be a bit more challenging to reach the broader audience beyond the wedding couple, it's undeniable that wedding season is no longer a niche marketing area. More and more publishers and content producers are including this extended audience in their standard coverage. Today, you can find wedding coverage on lifestyle content sites, entertainment and food sites, fitness sites and others.

Like everything these days, time and technology have changed the wedding industry and the impact it has on those around it. What used to be a more intimate event that people were invited to has now become more of an all-inclusive and all-consuming planning event for Gen Y -- which in turn, gives marketers a greater opportunity to think more broadly and capture dollars and mindshare.

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