When the most important world wedding event (a fair on wedding technology in New York) was canceled on February 27, the sector opportunities in Italy had long since been missed. Italy: one of the most affected countries, and the one where marriage is most popular. How to stop the crisis?
In the Bel Paese it is an important part of the events and tourism sector. In the wedding crisis, Covid has, in recent months, at all levels.
Indeed, it is perhaps the sector that sees the greatest number of "actors" in contemporary crisis. The "customers", future spouses, cancel the event or experience it amid anxiety and progressive shifts in date. Location, Catering and Banqueting do not move. Decorations, florists and accessories ditto. Do we want to talk about honeymoons?
To signal a reaction, the bridal sector brands that have quickly started developing digital resources to present the new wedding dresses with images, lookbooks and, in some cases, videos.
The next step for producers and retailers would be October. If all goes well, we will also witness a "mini boom" of autumn weddings. The doubts, however, are still the same, perhaps even greater for fear of a "second wave", or a resurgence of the pandemic in the autumn.
The wedding sector, in short, has been forced to confront the limits of its historical setting so “high-touch” and personal to meet the new needs of the public. But is the technology in the wedding sufficient to fill these gaps?
A new era in wedding
The pandemic has undoubtedly caused damage to detail. 83.000 companies involved, 1 million workers. The task of a collapse.
The retail sale of weddings has not escaped chaos. In early spring, many couples were simply moving their wedding dates towards the end of summer or autumn. However, there is now a growing recognition of the fact that even the same type of event will absolutely have to evolve.
More intimate events
The industry is now realizing that this is not a short-term situation, and there is no end date for this. This is why the marriage formula is being recalibrated.
Many of the couples choose to move forward, but holding a small and intimate ceremony. Everyone is moving towards different packages, because individual needs (which often also depend on different rules, for example on crowded events) influence interaction with sellers and retailers, and realign spending priorities.
But the dress remains the dress
As mentioned, technology can prove to be an ideal way to integrate product and event offers. But not all: brides, for example, might be willing to digitalize part of their special day, but the transition to buying a wedding dress online may be difficult for some.
"There hasn't been a single bride who found herself comfortable in selecting a wedding dress on Zoom or through a virtual consultant." To report it is an important atelier that does not want to appear. “It's not something that our customers have yet embraced. They are more likely to do it for bridesmaid dresses. ”
This obviously does not mean that consumers will never be ready to buy a garment like this online. Some retailers have gone further with bolder offers.
Sites like matchedfashion.com, mytheresa.com or net-a-porter.com exhibit designs of all kinds with prices that are on average 30 to 50% lower. The famous MarieClaire magazine even adapted its editorial plan with an article of suggestions on how to buy.
After all, they say in the sector, people now also buy cars for 30.000 euros without ever seeing them up close. Why couldn't it be the same for clothes too?
Technology and wedding: drinking or drowning, in any case.
Most clothing retailers, including those in the bridal segment, have been pushed to close temporarily to block the spread of the virus. In April, sales of clothing and accessories fell 89%. The segment recovered somewhat in the following months ("only" -25% in June), but compared to the other years it is still in great difficulty.
CreditRiskMonitor clearly tells us that half of the retailers who could go bankrupt in 2020 are in the footwear or clothing sector. Online conversion may not be a pure choice, but a necessity.
Dreams are desires for happiness, said that Disney song. It proves to be right, given that the average number of visits to wedding dress websites has increased by 25% compared to last year. Love is a driving force, and the market is still alive. The bride-user identikit is of a girl who moves 30-60 days after an event (when she buys) and uses digital resources. Consult the cards of the clothes, obviously prefer the details, dialogue with chatbots and virtual or remote assistants to ask for advice.
But does retail wedding need all that post-pandemic technology?
What will remain
There is what is needed now and what is needed in the future. Couples will get married again, even if they change the way they do it. The wedding industry, which is rich in rituals and fantasy realization, has been incredibly slow to adapt to some of the digital and e-commerce transformations.
Couples are also learning that technology can be part of their planning and expenses. wedding day.
They are oriented, for example, on more restricted and intimate ceremonies, perhaps with the addition of a live streaming to show all the salient parts of the rite, or reception. They evaluate solutions to offer, in whole or in part, even the remote experience of food. An "extended" wedding cake (with a smaller version, perhaps printed in 3D, for those present) to be sent also to relatives who follow from home. It sounds absurd, but it's already in someone's plans.
Whatever the proposals, the prize and the market will go to those companies that are bold innovators. “The retailers who will first develop the right technology to get it out safely or to connect remotely with their customers will be the ones that will check it out.