Market Focus: Marrying for Money

How the love of two people can be one marketer's dream

Weddings are beautiful, a dream come true, a day that comes around once in a lifetime -  for marketers looking to make money. The honeymoon is a more expensive trip than probably either the bride or groom has ever taken, there are whole new sets of everything to be bought - in other words, a married couple has never been more open to a marketer's message.

In some ways, you've lost two consumers but you've just gotten a new one. Once upon a time, that single spender would just go for the pair of skis - now they may have to see what the spouse says. On the other hand, that renter who wanted the freedom to live in any city at any time may now become the one who gets the realtor that much needed commission when the happy couple settles in one of those cites.

So, consider this like the Newlywed Game. Understand your couple well and the grand prize - a potential lifetime customer - can be yours.

Meet the (Hopefully) Happy Couple
So much has changed when it comes to the marrying kind - even down to the furniture. Barbara Cameron, author of The Everything Weddings on a Budget Book, says long gone are the days of inheriting the grandmother's couch - no matter how well kept it was beneath that uncomfortable plastic covering. "Though the economy has taken its toll," Cameron says, "couples still want to feel their place is completely theirs. This is why companies that will sell you a whole set of furniture to fill a room were invented - like Rooms To Go. Because we're so much about convenience, they'll even sacrifice a little style to get it out of the way ... Places who sell in bulk have a big advantage with couples."

Bulk also can describe the couples themselves not long after marriage. "The average newlyweds gain more than the 'freshman 15' in the first year," she says. "Eating out has almost become an event for couples. They tell each other they'll have kids soon and won't have a chance to enjoy an evening out. They see it as an adventure, a chance to explore together." They also have the advantage of discretionary incomes that come from being in the workforce longer - especially the case in major cities. In fact, Kathy Nenneker, editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Weddings, says the average marrying age in the Los Angeles area is 28.

Still, Cameron says the marketer has to be sensitive to what she believes is a slowly growing trend among couples: the goal-oriented team. "It seems like more couples are at least trying to stick to their guns on big purchases like homes and stay away from ridiculous spending to get there," Cameron says. But this can provide opportunities to alternatives such as rent-to-own offerings, provided they're presented in a way which allows the couple to see the purchasing finish line and not a finance-charge nightmare.

Whoa, Nelly
But let's not put the cart before the horse (which is which, we leave to you). Before the groom carries the bride across the threshold, the wedding and all its related buys can be a cash cow for businesses. Immediately, you think about the honeymoon purchase, but Nenneker says travel marketers should ever so slowly roll their tongues back into their collective mouths and wipe the drool off. "I think there is a huge shift going toward the wedding
and away from the honeymoon," Nenneker says. "You used to have it in a boring ballroom, but now people want to truly make it a day people will never forget. They'll take away from the honeymoon fund to do it. Partly, it's because the honeymoon used to be your first trip with your spouse, but now they could have been on a few trips together."

Nenneker has also seen the cost of weddings lower slightly because of the economy - but not as much as you might think. "They still seem to average between $20,000-$30,000," Nenneker says. "Closer to $30,000 if in metropolitan locations on the East and West Coast. People recognize even more how this is the first milestone in their life. They won't let the economy stop them from enjoying it." Nenneker says people would spend even more on the wedding, if not for the fact that approximately 60 percent of brides and grooms pay for some portion of the occasion.

Angeline Frame, publisher of Virginia Bride magazine, says this shift may account partly for a change in the amount of guests and extras. "Two-hundred-fifty-person weddings have definitely been replaced by 100-125," Frame says. "You also see more of a do-it-yourself attitude. It's not unusual now for brides to cut their own flowers or have a family member do it."

Another change has come via the Internet. "A little over 80 percent of brides go online for planning," Nenneker says. "For those people who want green weddings or contributions to their charity instead of gifts, the Internet is a great way to make that happen." Facebook pages, says Nenneker, are also making "save the dates" and other important communications leading up to the big day easier. "It adds a spirit to it," Nenneker offers. "Everyone gets excited and can look forward to it more by being apprised of everything." It's even been a major boon to bridal registries where a gift is just a click away.

But you can't be absolute with your wedding marketing - because this isn't everyone's first time saying "I do." Divorce rates continue to rise, but so do second marriages and beyond. Though you may not be able to sell them or their guests on wedding china - they probably already have the essentials - now the travel marketers, for instance, have a better chance. "Destination weddings are very popular the second time around," Frame says. "Couples spend more on the bar and food because their weddings tend to be a lot smaller. It's more about the people around them."

No matter how many times they've taken the plunge, getting product exposure with a married couple is like getting a second chance for those buyers to fall in love with you. You may have missed them earlier in life, but newlyweds can feel a strong sense of independence by choosing their own unique companies to go with. They've already committed to each other - with a firm pitch, maybe they'll do the same with a savvy marketer.

Next story loading loading..