By Paul Pannone
The discussion about data and reliability continues to pick up steam as more wedding industry sources weigh in. Frank, open discussions that were never possible are suddenly creating new approaches to how data can better guide business owners in the future.
Members of the Wedding Water Cooler discussion group weighed in on data and how the media looks for information to support the angle of their stories. Wedding Analyst, Christine Boulton feels, ” There is so much data available and it all differs. So much is dependent on how the questions were formulated. I often take surveys where I look at the choices of answers and realize that none even come close to being the answer that fits me. Authors and reporters tend to choose the set of numbers that best fit their hypothesis.”
After much deliberation members of the group feel certain segments of the business should stick to pure data and facts. But in the uniqueness of the wedding business, it is sometimes difficult to separate the data from the emotional portion. Jim Duhe of Bridal Guide says, “In my opinion, bridal magazines should be completely data driven. However, editors feel that it’s their role to help to set trends rather than follow them. This generally results in constant internal battles. It always falls back to the classic separation of church and state.
For example, Bridal Guide readers indicate that the median cost of a bridal gown is under $800. Less than 2% of readers purchase gowns that are priced above $3,000. Regardless, editors select to feature a disproportionate number of gowns priced above $3,000. Theoretically, this decision is no different from the kind of direction followed by all ready to wear fashion editors. Theoretically, it’s the same basic philosophy employed by all special interest publications: expensive equals design innovation. However, the bridal category isn’t like all other special interest categories.
While I do believe that my publication, Bridal Guide, offers the most balanced mix of bridal products and services, it’s difficult to reach the right balance. It’s a job in itself. At the risk of sounding like a salesman, Bridal Guide’s growth over the years is a testament to our ability to consistently deliver an editorial product that appeals to the average American consumer. Our single copy sales per issue now exceeds Brides Magazine by roughly 20%. This still doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied.
Think for a minute how all bridal publications (except Bridal Guide) and the majority of bridal web sites editorialize the men’s formal wear category. Every survey I’ve ever seen (including a survey by The Knot) indicates that more than 85% of grooms will rent a tuxedo for their wedding day. Regardless, editors turn away from this statistic and flood the reader with ready-to-wear resources for wedding day apparel. This highly biased direction has had an impact on consumer trends: ten years ago, roughly 98% of Bridal Guide readers rented tuxedos. The statistic now is down to 85%. To add insult to injury, the decision to editorialize men’s ready-to-wear isn’t financially driven. No bridal magazine or web site carries men’s ready-to-wear advertising. They all, however, carry men’s formal wear advertising.
I’m not saying that bridal magazines and bridal web site editors are entirely to blame for this change. However, I’m suggesting that their resistance to hard data encouraged it.”
Duhe and other members of the group realize the wedding business requires greater latitude and an emotional side, as data gathering methods are not flawless.
What do you say?
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