Part of the magic of the bridal business is that companies have a significant amount of information about what brides will be buying during the engagement and newlywed period. As I learned when leading the bridal division for Nordstrom a decade ago, there are showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, gown-shopping excursions, occasions created around dress fittings, bridal parties and parents to be dressed, flower girls and ring bearers (pets included) to be outfitted, attendant gifts to select, trips to take (and dress for), a home to set up or to augment, and more.
One reason that brands operating in the bridal business are known to embark on frequent partnerships is that any given brand addressing one part of the wedding journey knows there are complementary brands addressing other parts of it. Indeed, in announcing David’s Bridal’s new partnership with Ashley Furniture yesterday, Chief Marketing and IT Officer Kelly Cook told me her vision for David’s is to serve the bride “way beyond the dress… with all kinds of innovation beyond the actual wedding event” and explained that furniture remains high on the list of what couples want to buy as they’re getting married.
The new partnership is the latest advancement for David’s as it continues to grow beyond the traditional bridal space, extending its reach by delivering solutions for the entire special event space and beyond. Along similar lines, Zola, “the home of all things wedding,” began as a digital gift registry store but now facilitates invitation design and offers a marketplace of wedding vendors ranging from venues to music to photography to beauty. This is all in a self-described effort to make wedding planning easy.
In bridal, the benefits for partners can center on cross-marketing arrangements, which was characteristic of much of the awareness-building work my own team once did. Or, objectives may be tied to marketplace or affiliate referral commissions and lead-generation economics. For example, to track the business it helps drive for its listed partners, the Kleinfeld vantage Program directs brides to ask for login details when they purchase their wedding gown from Kleinfeld’s store, which has operated in New York City for more than seventy years.
When I asked Cook about her business goals for the partnership between David’s and Ashley, she brought it back to the customer experience and stated a commitment to ease the entire wedding journey by offering exclusive discounts and a seamless event planning experience. Indeed, this announcement reflects the most recent addition to David’s growing partnerships portfolio including The Black Tux, Diamond Nexus, Something Borrowed Blooms, Shutterfly
The Ashley partnership in anchored to spring trunk show events to be held in all of David’s U.S. stores from 6:00 P.M to close on Friday, March 31. The companies are awarding $100 David’s Bridal gift cards to the first five people in the store, a 10% discount to all shoppers, and $100 in Ashley Cash to the first 25 people in the store. When I asked Cook how her team landed on these specific mechanics, an appreciation for customer needs was top of mind again. To some extent, said Cook, the approach is based on average order value and what both brands thought would be meaningful to customers given what they typically buy, adding, “We just came together and said, ‘You know what? $100 can go a long way if somebody wants to buy a new couch or a new mattress, or whatever it may be.’”
Cook explained that couples now have less confidence in their financial futures and, over the past twenty months in particular, a top piece of feedback brides have shared is that they have budget and money stress. Cook sees David’s as being able to help brides save money, even beyond the wedding itself. She and her team have used customer insights to drive the partnerships strategy, and she teased that tie-ups in the home improvement (couples’ second favorite gift after cash, Cook’s data show) and wedding financing arenas are high on her wish list as she thinks about what will round out the wedding-related needs that David’s can solve for its brides.