The bridal industry, one of the many markets that rely on in-person customer experiences, was not spared by Covid-19.
However, “snowmageddons, hurricanes, Covid, murder hornets -- nothing can cancel love,” said Kelly Cook, chief marketing and IT officer at David’s Bridal, on the latest episode of the Glossy Podcast.
“It’s a fun time to be in our business,” said Cook, who spent a year facilitating virtual wedding gown and bridal face mask shopping. She expects a 25-40% increase in weddings in 2021, “now that vaccines are out and the country’s opening up.”
The height of the pandemic last year did not equate to a full stop in the bridal industry, however. While “about 10% of the brides just canceled their weddings,” according to Cook, “out of the remaining 90%, about half of them already moved their weddings into this year. The remaining half moved their weddings into fall of .”
For the brides that did get married during the pandemic, David’s Bridal was quick to adapt to their needs with solutions, like the production of “70,000 [face] masks in all colors," as well as improvements to its technology, according to Cook.
“We've modernized and digitized our company,” said Cook. “Within a two-week period, we implemented curbside pickup and we implemented virtual stylists.” The latter was possible through partnerships with augmented reality-focused company Vertebrae, as well as Zoey, an automated concierge system, she said.
“We sold $1 million in gowns just through text,” said Cook. “We wouldn't have been able to do any of that if we had not had a culture here of serving her and being relentless about solving problems.”
Additionally, David’s Bridal hosted its first virtual fashion show in May 2020. It also found success with a YouTube Live channel “of nothing but wedding videos,” as well as with new TikTok and Instagram Reels accounts.
Customers have benefitted from the changes, as well -- particularly those who have signed up for the company's new Diamond Loyalty Program.
“It’s not a loyalty program for the number of times you get married. It’s a loyalty program around everybody at your wedding,” said Cook. “We launched it on December 8 of last year and have had 55 people earn enough for a honeymoon.”
As for the future of David’s Bridal, “the power of our store [is] in making everyone feel absolutely stunning and beautiful in whatever they're wearing,” said Cook. “The trend is that people are going to want more human interaction and want to see more humanity in brands because we are becoming so digital.”
The human touch of the bridal shopping experience is not fully replicable via digital. Until life returns to normal, Cook emphasized the importance of David's Bridal “partnering with people that make the [wedding] process easier,” such as WeightWatchers, Black Tux, popular venue Rustic Wedding Chic and micro-influencers.
“We partner with the right micro-influencer, and we give her the product, and all of the content is in her own voice and style,” said Cook. She called out that David's Bridal has featured “employees, friends, and family” in shoots, in place of models, since last year.
“It’s authentic and real, and it’s representative of who we are as a brand,” said Cook.