Sometimes you have to watch closely, sit silently and just listen to know what is coming.
I am watching what happens when the White by Vera Wang line debuts at David’s in February. I am curious as to whether her couture line will become simply a marketing tool. If it does, what directional signs will that portend for the rest of us?
The gap between the wealthy among us is growing at an ever-expanding pace. In 2008 it was already on a par with the gap during the Gilded Age; this according to the Economist from a study by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty
America’s super-rich (0.1%), they found, were earning about 8% of the country’s total income at the end of the period—the same share as during the Gilded Era of the 1920s and up from around 2% in the 1960s.
You read that right 0.1%, one tenth of one percent, that is a tiny amount of people.
A recent quote by the master of all things wedding data, Shane McMurray of the Wedding Report ties in to this;
I’ve been saying this for years that 71% of couples spend at or below the average,
As the number of people in that category of top income earners continues to shrink and the rest of us continue to see our tangible income dive due to inflation, will that 71% that McMurry mentions grow even larger?
What you see in the magazines and on shows like Platinum Weddings are a tiny microcosm of what is actually going on in the real world of weddings. Even at 29% that is a small number of weddings. If you really crunch the numbers you will find that only a small part of that number are throwing $100k weddings and above. Tiny.
as people get wealthier they tend to devote more discretionary income to what are called “positional goods”
“positional goods” that translates to brands and labels
Let’s take all of that and look at what Wang is doing. Her brand is undoubtably a market leader in the wedding world, but the market for that product is shrinking. If you read further into the Economist article, you will find that there are real chemical changes in the brain tied to Keeping up with the Jones’ . By creating this lower priced line that will be available to a much greater part of the market Wang is tapping into that chemical release associated with keeping up with the Jones’.
The problem is, that chemical fix will only work as long as the main brand, her couture line, continues to be a beacon of style, money and power. With fewer and fewer people buying the couture gowns does that part of the line stay profitable? Probably not.
The result becomes that she has to continue to create each season a line that will most likely not be profitable just for the sake of magazine shoots, freebies to people on red carpets and the buzz created on the runway. In short, the line becomes a marketing tool to keep the lower priced line selling.
Now isn’t that interesting.
How does that translate to you?
No one will really dispute that Wang has transformed the look of bridal gowns, nor can you dispute that she is one savvy business women. Who better to take your cues from?
Continue to create the magnificent over the top designs that most of us thrive on creating, use it for PR, buzz and press. Then create a line of product that is more attainable for the masses and tie it to your brand. Then sell the shit out of it.
Draw them into your website with the mesmerizing sparkle of the unattainable, then lead them to the line that they can afford.
It might not be as glamorous as shifting all your efforts to doing only Platinum weddings but I bet it does a better job of feeding the kitty.
Food for thought, gang, food for thought.
On the upside, you still get to create the gorgeous stuff you love to create, who cares if it sells, it’s job is only to create buzz for what does!