2018 is a year marked by the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, to be held on May 19. The event is expected to boost retail sales in the United Kingdom by £195.5 million(€223.6 million) over the four-month period between May and August, according to a forecast from research specialist Springboard. This will mean an economic boost of £500 million (€571.8 million) for British brands, Reuters has estimated, driven mainly by the tourism industry. And then there is the ‘Meghan effect’, which is really the icing on the cake.
Beyond the walls of Windsor Castle, bridalwear designers everywhere are looking at the bride-to-be for inspiration, and next season’s trends will inevitably be influenced by the “wedding of the year” – from London Bridal Fashion Week and New York Bridal Fashion Week, to trade events like Paris Bridal, Interbride Messe Gmbh in Düsseldorf and Sì SposaItalia in Milán, to Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week.
The sector’s main challenge is to transform itself fast and find a way to differentiate by focusing on omnichannel retail and developing a digital strategy centred on the idea of ‘the store of the future’. This is according to the study “The store of the future for millennial brides”, commissioned by Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week to IESE Business School professor Jose Luis Nueno.
By 2025, millennials and Gen Z consumers, including all those who were born since the beginning of the ’80s, will play a leading role in virtually all weddings. “Bridal fashion stores have to set their course for this new business model,” said Nueno. Today, from the total number of brides who browse the web for a wedding dress, 75% register, 50% visit the store, 35% try on a dress and just 13% buy it. To increase this figure, the report recommends integrating new technologies into the physical experience, such as video walls, interactive digital signage, smart mirrors and virtual catalogues. Currently, just 6% of companies in Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany have a digital strategy – an approach that is essential according to Nueno.
Among the formats that are poised for success is the showroom, set to expand its range of products; the online channel which will become a tool for pre-selection before a purchase is completed in an experiential and omnichannel physical store; logistics, which will improve with the development of click-and-collection points, and the retail sector, set to experiment with the combination of online and pop-up spaces, as well as outlet and low cost formats.
Every year, more than 10 million couples get married in China and the country manufactures even more dresses, as 72% are destined for export. With 755,000 dresses produced per year, Spain cannot compete in volume with the Asian country, nor should it want to. The Spanish bridal sector turns over more than 1.3 billion per year and is the second largest exporting country in the world.
Europe is reaffirming itself as a solid and trendsetting market, with established companies like Pronuptia and Cymbelline in France, Nicole in Italy, Lohrengel in Germany, Ellis Bridals in the United Kingdom, and Pronovias and Rosa Clará in Spain. Across the Atlantic, David’s Bridal and Justin Alexander dominate the United States, the largest market today. North America has also the greatest potential for growth for 2020, along with Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
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