A lot has happened in the world of bridal publishing over the past six months, and it’s understandably left people confused and wondering about both the state of print and what couples today are doing when it comes to making their wedding decisions. To recap, if you’re not fully up to date:
In June, Meredith Corporation announced they would be ending the quarterly print editions of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine (releasing one annual print edition) and focusing primarily on digital.
In June, it was also announced that Southern Weddings magazine would be closing.
In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Condé Nast is planning to sell three magazines, including BRIDES, the first wedding magazine ever published in the United States. Ironically, Meredith Corp (which announced this week it had sold TIME magazine to Salesforce founder Mark Benioff and his wife, Lynne, for $190 million) is the most likely buyer.
Meanwhile, traditional lifestyle magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, and Vogue have continued to ramp up their bridal features and increasingly compete with bridal magazines for exclusivity in publishing wedding features.
From a business standpoint, this last part is a smart move on the part of the lifestyle magazines. Weddings are feel-good content focused on celebrating values almost everyone can get behind: love, hope, commitment, joy, family, and community. Who doesn’t want to feel good, especially when the world right now so often doesn’t? Unless you’re getting married or are helping a friend who is, you’re probably not going to purchase a bridal magazine off the rack just to boost your mood. Your brain, however, is going to subconsciously associate Vogue with making you a little bit happier when you flipped through it last month, so that’s likely the mag you’ll pick up again. Mainstream magazines now including weddings in their issues is business strategy, plain and simple.
Purchasing a wedding magazine is an unspoken rite of passage for many women, an act that – much like trying on a wedding dress for the first time – gives that “oh wow, this is really happening!” feeling and one that is deeply engrained in the wedding culture of most Western societies.
I’m not going to comment on what led each of the companies to land at the decisions they did, as each company has different goals, financial targets, marketing and sales practices, as well as upper management teams who may or may not be involved in the industry (nor have any understanding of it) making choices on their behalf.
I am going to clear up some confusion as to the question of whether or not today’s couples buy print wedding magazines: THEY DO.
According to our research with Splendid Insights, 79% of brides or grooms who got married last year purchased a print version of a wedding magazine and 1 in 4 (25%) purchased it before they were even engaged! Nearly half (46%) used the bridal magazines on a daily or weekly basis while they were planning their wedding.
Not only do today’s engaged couples buy bridal magazines, they use them to hire their wedding professionals.
If you read the 2018 Global Wedding Market Report, it shows that only 13% of couples hired at least one of their wedding vendors or suppliers from a magazine feature or advertisement. This is because this is the general report and includes all budget segments and people having an intimate wedding and spending less than $1000 total (think elopements or just a few guests) are included in that number.
If you take a look at the wedding market reports for the budget segments of your target clients, you will see a more accurate picture of what the couples you are specifically marketing to are actually doing when it comes to their weddings.
For example, in the luxury wedding segment (budgets of $96,000-$500,000), 30% of couples hired one or more of their wedding pros after finding them through a wedding magazine feature or advertisement. 64% were flipping through a wedding magazine at least once a week while they were planning.
In the ultra-luxury wedding segment (budgets of $500,000+), that number is even higher: 1 in 3 couples (33%) hired at least one of their vendors because of a magazine feature or ad.
It should also be noted that several local wedding magazines and bridal magazines catering to niche or often overlooked segments of the market, such as Munaluchi Bride (focusing on multi-cultural weddings), are doing well. Considering the other closures an indictment of print in general is a mistake.
The people declaring print to be dead haven’t done their homework. Engaged couples are still buying bridal magazines, and they are using the inspirational and practical information they find in the pages to help them plan their weddings.
Create your marketing plans based more on data that shows what is really happening than on anecdotes or Chicken Little-esque “the sky is falling!” proclamations. Most importantly, don’t allow fear to overtake your business decisions.