By Paul Pannone
With marriages declining in the United States the wedding business finds itself adjusting to a shrinking market of formal weddings, as more vendors enter the fray. While the exact number of vendors were found conflicting in past surveys, there is no doubt or survey needed to know there is more supply to service a declining demand of wedding products.
In a new discussion group called the Wedding Water Cooler members give their views of why the wedding business is in disarray. The excess of wedding websites and information overload are often cited as major contributing factors to why brides become confused and end up distrusting all wedding vendors.
Discussions surrounding wedding websites and how they impact the wedding dress business were particularly poignant. “Every full service bridal stores all around the country are complaining about bridal apparel internet sales. Virtually all bridal retailers agree that most consumers don’t understand that independently owned salons don’t exist to service the needs of internet shoppers. Unlike Verizon, AT & T, or Target, profit and loss depends upon where merchandise is purchased not upon the purchase itself. At the same time, the volume of internet sites selling bridal apparel increases almost daily. Some of these suites sell legitimate merchandise; many don’t. They sell “Replicas” or dresses described as similar or even identical to many name brand designers. Based upon the level of consumer complaints, the gowns are far from replicas or even similar to the original gowns.
A new entry, ShopBop came across my desk. This isn’t a replica gown site. It sells very high-end name brands like Lela Rose, Marchesa, Halston, and others. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to up to $6,000. They’re not exactly giving this stuff away. I doubt that full service retailers will have a major complaint against this site because most of the designers involved are not available through main stream bridal salons.
I question how consumers will react to this site. It’s my opinion that few will commit to a $6,000 online purchase – even if the gown is designed by Halston. Every one of us is a consumer. I’m a consumer. I wouldn’t dream of a $6,000 gown purchase for my daughter– even with a Halston label,” according to Jim Duhe of Bridal Guide Magazine.
Besides the overload of information, Do It Yourself (DIY) became a phenomenon of a sour economy through 2008 and 2009. Brides that could not afford to pay for wedding goods and services decided to save money and masquerade their frugal inclination by claiming to add their personal touch to gift items and other portions of wedding planning.
Wedding marketing expert, Andy Ebon, recently posted an article called Wedding DIY Stinks: Hire A Professional – A new campaign from The Wedding Marketing Authority. In the article, Ebon takes a stand on DIY encouraging wedding professionals to stand tall. “People in the wedding business should always aspire to excellence and professional standards. And, should support each other in encouraging brides to hire wedding professionals,” he writes.
eWedNewz asked Ebon if he felt DIY would wane, as the economy stabilizes and ultimately improves. “The economy is improving, slowly, but the problem of poor DIY lives, primarily within the wedding media. Brides who don’t get a great result from DIY are not likely to shout it from the rooftops because it reflects poorly on their decision making. I believe each industry category and related trade associations must make the case for professionalism over Wedding DIY,” Ebon told eWedNewz.
Jim Duhe and Andy Ebon provided their views as part of the new discussion group. Other members include Wedding Analyst, Christine Boulton, Travel Expert, Jacqueline Johnson, Wedding Planner Extraordinaire, Marcinho Savant, William Heaton of the Great Bridal Expo, Luxury Planner, Maya Kalman of Swank Productions and Sheryl Davies of the Wedding Planner in Canada to name only a few. More invitations to participate in the discussion group were sent. New member quotes in future stories will appear, as they join the group.
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