An article in the New York Times Magazine by Catherine Rampell gave this first hand description of the wedding marketplace: “…I thought the process of planning my own wedding would be fairly painless and practical. That was before I entered the economically baffling world of the wedding industrial complex.”
This frustration is almost universal across the wedding industry and highlights a chronic need to make comparison shopping easier for couples planning a wedding. But while Rampell was largely referring to the complexities of package and pricing in her article, we believe the ability to compare service is far more critical. Here’s why…
In other industries, the decision to purchase is generally made by comparing price and specifications. This process is fairly straightforward when customers are familiar with the specifications available in that market. But in the wedding industry, the number of variables in each sector of the market is enormous.
Compare the wedding industry with buying a new car for example. Aside from the annoying absence of multi-million dollar advertising budgets, the other stark difference is the available choices across the wedding and car market. In some sectors of the wedding market there are (conservatively) 2,000 more brands than in the automobile industry. That’s 2,000 more wedding photographers to assess the particulars of, and 2,000 times the choice of venues.
No two venues or photographers or celebrants provide the same product. What can be achieved varies between wedding vendors and the manner in which every service is delivered is different. The wedding industry is a veritable blur of brands & products & options.
The sheer breadth of customisation offered by services within each segment of the market makes comparing vendors by price meaningless. Not only is it logistically impossible to filter the wedding market by budget, but that effort becomes defunct as soon as customers consider what they really want.
When couples find a product or service they love, they’ll spend more or less to have it. Our research found that most couples rarely stick to the budget allocated for each wedding service, putting more weight on factors other than price when finally booking a vendor.
The wedding industrial complex isn’t changing - and that’s a good thing. While individuality reigns in the wedding market, there are fewer restrictions on creativity and innovation. But there is a productivity cost that this ‘wedding industrial complex’ brings to the market and its impact is not only felt by frustrated couples.
With no easy way to browse the marketplace, couples regularly seek information directly from vendors. But one of the key measures of productivity for vendors is the conversion rate of enquiries to bookings. And enquiries that are seeking to inform their understanding of the market do not have a high conversation rate.
The solution is not to make vendors more similar in what they offer, but to stand them further apart. The areas in which vendors offer expertise should be visually obvious to anyone - not just industry professionals. Providing vendors with greater recognition is a means to achieve this.