David's Bridal is expanding its business model, launching a new planning platform called Pearl by David's. Designed to compete against brands like the Knot and Wedding Wire, it will offer all-in-one-place planning functions and access to a wide variety of vendors, including venues, food, and even other dress companies. Chief executive officer Jim Marcum tells Marketing Daily what the brand hopes to accomplish.
Marketing Daily: What led up to the launch?
Jim Marcum: It's been an internal vision for quite some time. We wanted to build a stronger relationship with our customers and move further up the marketing funnel. We've been focused on being with her when she's starting to be inspired -- we've had vision boards, checklists, registries and lots of planning tools. Pearl is the culmination, where we pull it all together.
Marketing Daily: So the intention is to compete against platforms like the Knot and WeddingWire?
Marcum: Yes. What differentiates us from those competitors is, we are a vendor, too. We participate in roughly 650 bridal shows a year. So many vendors are small and local, all getting together for one reason: to market themselves to brides. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to do something for the brides and this very entrepreneurial community.
Marketing Daily: What else sets you apart from those competitors?
Marcum: We sell one out of every three or four wedding dresses in America, and roughly two-thirds of brides say we're in their consideration set. At some point, 90% of brides will come to our websites. So we think this is something meaningful for them. And because of who we are, our customer acquisition cost is lower than you would expect.
Marketing Daily: Will other dress companies, your competitors, also be on the site?
Marcum: Yes, we won't restrict them. It's all part of recognizing that the digital journey is very different. Brides can have access to everything. It's unique, and I think we have earned the right to be able to do that for our customers.
Marketing Daily: How much revenue do you expect? It's free for brides, and there are tiered subscriptions for vendors. Will you sell advertising on it?
Marcum: Eventually, we may, but not on day one. As far as vendors go, the basic level is free. And then, there are options to pay more, and we'll have a robust set of data analytics. The idea with the tiered offerings is to allow the vendor to come in at their option and expand the scope of how they present their business.
Marketing Daily: What kind of revenue potential do you think it has?
Marcum: We're not disclosing our expectations–and time will tell, right? We'll see where it seeks its level and then tweak it as we go. Revenue isn't really why we've done this. The big thing for us is building a robust database around vendor communities. We want it to be a home run for the brides, and that's a home run for the vendors.
And there'll be a little competition to this. If there are five bakeries, it's going to be interesting to see how they'll develop and differentiate their sites -- but it's up to them.
Marketing Daily: We heard so much about COVID-delayed weddings creating bottlenecks. Is that still true?
Marcum: Yes. All those 2020 weddings rolled first into 2021, then into 2022. There is still constriction because of limited venue availability. What we've seen is an elongation of the wedding planning cycle. Pre-COVID, it was more like a 9-to-12-month planning cycle. And now you've seen this elongation of 12 to 18 months. People getting engaged now are booking 2024 weddings.
That affects us because she is not going to buy a dress before she finds the venue. We just want to be there for her as she plans.
Marketing Daily: What kind of advertising are you doing to launch Pearl?
Marcum: We'll do a tremendous amount of digital advertising. We have it on our website, which gets several million visits every year. We are in all social channels, too, hitting every channel, category and impression point.