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Bridalwear: The new retail race for the modern bride

Ted Baker Bridalwear collection

Ted Baker Bridalwear

 

Bridalwear has exploded on the UK high street with retailers as diverse as Missguided to Ted Baker launching bridal ranges in the last few months, resulting in a 330.0% volume increase year-on-year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, only 28% of UK marriages in 2014 were in a religious setting, so as happy couples look for their own take on the perfect day, there is an opportunity for high-street retailers to offer contemporary, affordable and well-designed wedding dresses for the modern bride. However, a focus on price must not come at the expense of the shopping experience.

Online pureplays such as Boohoo (currently offering 33 dresses for the bride), Missguided (268 bridal dresses) and Quiz’s collections (5 bridal dresses) are competitively priced and designed for the quirky and fun-loving personalities of their young customer base. Given the wedding dress is the one area where brides feel the most comfortable splashing out on, the real opportunity for these value retailers lies in targeting the bridal party, and catering for hen parties, bridesmaid’s dresses, receptions or post-wedding parties.

While price remains the primary differentiator for these value players, there are multiple benefits to be reaped from investing in the shopping experience; especially as this is a new area of expansion and consumers need to be encouraged to shop online for wedding dresses. Initiatives such as free next day postage with a specialized courier, luxurious packaging or collaborations with third parties to incorporate free manicure vouchers or a mini bottle of Prosecco will all encourage shopper adoption.

This strategy is especially relevant for online retailers such as ASOS (which saw an 8.3% increase in bridal dresses go out of stock) which do not have the benefit of a physical space to provide shoppers with a service-driven shopping experience. Online retailers must reward customers with an unexpected attention to detail that regardless of age or lifestyle, would encourage shopper adoption, build loyalty and garner word-of-mouth positivity.

Whistles Bridal Collection

The mid-to-premium market, which year-on-year has seen an increase in bridal products of 246.7%, has a real opportunity to tap into the bridal market (both bride and bridal party), as retailers such as Topshop and Whistles are able to offer a bride-to-be a cheaper (yet still luxurious) alternative to a traditionally expensive wedding dress alongside a premium shopping experience.

Offering personal shopping services, expert style advice and where possible, creating exclusive areas instore for the wedding party, much like Topshop have done in their two flagship stores, all feed into an elevated shopping experience. Further enhancements are possible, as there is scope to work with tailors and seamstresses to offer fitting and alteration services.

Retailers – both online and multi-channel ones – must also maximize cross-selling opportunities via targeted editorials, outfit building suggestions (via stylists, mannequins or ‘recommended item’ pop-ups) and well thought-out marketing campaigns. This also presents opportunities for appealing to the bridesmaids and mothers-of-the-brides elsewhere in the store.

Topshop Bride Collection

Topshop Bride Collection campaign imagery

As retailers launch their own takes on bridalwear, and explore the gap in the market for non-traditional, alternative but affordable styles; it is important that affordability is balanced with experience to encourage shopper adoption.

 

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