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Retailers Say ‘I Do’ to Creative Registry Options

[RETHINK Retail] — Retailers must understand their customers. It’s one of the most beneficial ways to fully grasp what to sell to a certain type of shopper.

But consumers may find it deeply intrusive for retailers to want to know more about their demographics and lifestyle habits. Ironically, they also don’t want to be spammed with social media ads and product commercials they have no interest in. So it’s up to retailers to figure out how to make consumers want to give up information to receive relevant online and print marketing deals.

Smart retailers know that consumers who are the same age, race, gender or from the same location don’t always enjoy the same things. And one of the most useful ways to know how these groups differ is to study societal habits and changes. Maybe the results come from a survey or a poll. Possibly it’s an in-person store rep. Or maybe outside market researchers will guide retailers in the right direction.

Case and point: Wedding registries. This is one example of how market research has proven why the retail industry needs to pay attention to societal changes. Take a glance at the wedding registry options at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s no longer just a checklist for a new toaster or blender. Now wedding guests can purchase “experience” gifts like swimming with dolphins, wine tastings, dinner detective murder mysteries and motorcycle gang tours.

But what made retail do a deep dive into “experience” gifts instead of whatever is already available in their store aisles?


How society has changed wedding retail

People are getting married less often and later in life. According to 2018 United States Census results, the median age for a first-time marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. This is quite a jump from 1968, when the average woman was married by the age of 20 and men were married before they turned 23. Since 2000, the age for first-time newlyweds has continued to increase in age.

While one in seven adults don’t want to be married at all — and there is a market to sell “experiences” to them too as friends or family getaways — these wedding registry “experiences” may seem especially attractive to people who have been married before.

According to a Pew Research poll, remarriage is rising. In 2013, there were 23 percent of people who’d walked down the aisle more than once. (In 1960, that number was much lower at 13 percent.) Approximately 40 percent of “new” marriages included one spouse who’d been married at least one time before. Meanwhile 20 percent in that same year (2013) involved couples who’d both previously been married. Divorced and widowed men were more likely to try again (64 percent) versus previously married women (52 percent).

For retailers who are pitching wedding registry “experiences,” it’s important to keep track of the kinds of experiences that these couples would want to go on. It’s also significant for wedding guests to understand why these kinds of deals make sense.

For divorced and widowed couples, furniture and appliances are probably already split between the couples. These couples may be more likely to merge the belongings they already have into one home as opposed to buying items from scratch. So when these lovebirds are on the lookout for something to do for their honeymoon, an actual trip or fun local event could be more appealing.


How retailers are effectively marketing to wedding guests and couples

The Knot reports that the average wedding (according to a survey with 14,000 couples) costs $33,931. These 2018 estimates exclude honeymoon expenses — a perfect way to appeal to wedding guests who want to help out. With an average of $258 spent per guest, that helps give the guests a running idea of how much to spend on these “experiences” to pay it forward.

And depending on the couple, some of the wedding registry “experiences” may be only half or a fourth of the price to attend the wedding. Adventure couples who want trapeze lessons can take those for two-thirds of the guest price. Cautious couples who want to do something a little more sane (ex. jazz sailing tour or Hawaiian coffee plantation tours) get to pick their favorite expeditions without making their wedding guests break the bank.

And with retail companies like these partnering up with travel companies (Target with Honeyfund, Bed Bath & Beyond with VEBO), sales representatives are not left with loads of returned, unwanted wedding gifts. Retailers and vacation companies make money together. Wedding guests feel like they got the perfect gift. And newlyweds get the “experience” they really wanted instead of crossing their fingers at wedding wishing wells.