The Re-Ordering of Life Stages

Monday, August 13, 2012

The trajectory of life events used to be pretty straightforward. There is even a playground rhyme about it: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. People marketing to these life stages could do so following a simple formula: reach the bride first, she would register for setting up the nest, then baby followed and then pets, family vacations, and so on.

These days, we have to rethink how we market to life stages because they no longer follow a defined path. People are getting married at an older age than they used to and are furnishing their homes with nice pieces (not dormroom chic) while they're still single. 76% of couples today live together before marriage, so they're combining their homes long before a registry comes along. When they do register, it's usually for higher end or more unique items or experiences (like tickets to the opera, sporting events, etc), and the men are involved nearly as much as the women are. And baby can arrive at any time. I did an interview with American Baby magazine for an issue that came out earlier this year about the increase in millennials choosing to have children out of wedlock and how their views on marriage relate to that. In addition, more women in their thirties are choosing to adopt without a man in the picture, making them single moms by choice.

Many companies in the wedding industry overlap into the other life stages: bar and bat mitzvahs, baby showers, family portraits, stationery to celebrate each milestone, etc. Many companies also make the mistake of modeling their marketing off of the plans of companies who have gone before, and that typically has meant starting with the bride. Simply copying the method that's always been used will no longer work.

[An aside: Currently, design blogs have an expansion advantage over wedding blogs because decorating a home is what now comes first. The rest of it -- weddings, kids, milestones -- comes in any order and varies by person. Design blogs also have an evergreen audience whereas wedding blogs have a seasonal audience with a specific attention span. It is much easier for a design blog to move into weddings or parenting than it is for a wedding blog to move into design or parenting.]

If you're trying to reach beyond the wedding, spend some time looking at the lifestyle choices of your typical clients. They may not be as typical as you think.

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