Behavioral Psychologist

Introducing WedType™ – The First Wedding Buyer Behavior Model

Earlier this week I was honored to speak at the VOW New World of Bridal educational event for bridal shop owners and managers at AmericasMart in Atlanta. During my talk, I introduced WedType™, the first wedding buyer behavior model

While there are many buyer behavior models on the market, none of them really took a deep dive into how consumers behave during lifestage milestones, such as weddings, new babies, or buying a home. While there are companies who serve these various lifestage milestones, the consumer behavior is often described by lumping all those buyers together: "This is how brides think" or "This is what new parents want." When people went further, they would try to plug in other consumer behavior models, which never quite fit because they were researched based on everyday normal buying behavior, not milestone events. 

WedType™ is made up of four wedding buyer types: Seekers, Drivers, Researchers, and Lovers. Each segment makes decisions differently when it comes buying, and each interacts with each other differently. With the Millennial generation and Generation Z valuing group decision making, understanding the different perspectives of the people in the room is more critical than ever, and it goes beyond simply understanding which generation they are a part of. 

WedType™ is something we've been working on and testing here at Think Splendid for the past several years, and in the past year we've been using it privately in our business and sales training sessions with clients. This week, I was happy to unveil it publicly for the first time. 

I am very proud of the WedType™ wedding buyer behavior model we've developed and stand behind it 100%. Because it is based on our proprietary research, it is not something you will find on Google or from reading a book. In fact, we are the only company on the planet offering this in depth training and insights.

If you would like Think Splendid to train your team on WedType™ and how to better understand and sell to brides and grooms in a way that no other training can provide, we'd love to work with you.

Millennials as Clients and Competitors

For Generation X, hiring a wedding planner or a team of wedding professionals wasn't just about being too busy to spare the 250 plus hours it takes to plan a wedding. It was more deeply engrained psychologically: Gen X values personal success and personal achievement. The U.S. Army recruiting slogan for Gen X was, "Be All That You Can Be," putting the emphasis on personal achievement – fighting through the limitations of your mind and body and coming out the winner. This focus on the strength and importance of the individual is partly why Generation X was also dubbed, "The Me Generation."

And so, when marketing to Gen X, selling wedding services tapped into that line of thinking. You are too busy and too important to plan your wedding yourself because you are SO successful. You have reached a level of success where you can delegate not just because you literally don't have the time to do it yourself, but also because the ability and resources to delegate is a status symbol of the level of personal achievement you've reached. Well done, you. Hire us and we'll handle it all – you won't have to think about a thing.

Ten years ago in 2007, millennials became the majority bridal consumer. Yet mainstream wedding marketing still has largely not changed. The focus is still on the values that Gen X hold, and that the majority of millennials do not relate to. Wedding professionals then blame social media for not working, or they blame magazine ads for not working, or they blame bridal shows for not working. The fact of the matter is that they're pushing outdated messaging through those various channels and that is what is not working. The problem is not the platform, the problem is the way the platform is being used and the lack of understanding of the person on the other end.

When it comes to the millennial generation, the U.S. Army's recruiting strategy is very different. Their slogan is now, "Army Strong." The emphasis is on community, teamwork, and being in it together. For millennials, success isn't as sweet if it doesn't include everyone in the group. Millennials truly believe that they are better together and stronger together than they are as individuals. This mindset is why they are also known as "Generation We." When it comes to weddings, they value the input of everyone in their social circle, including not only their wedding party, but family, close friends, and friends they haven't seen in a while but keep in touch with via Snapchat and WhatsApp.

It's important to note here that both sets of values have their merits and one isn't better than the other. However, if you are a Boomer or Gen X selling to a millennial, trying to get potential clients to buy into your set of values is a losing battle. If a millennial client is sitting in your studio and you need a decision right then and they can't reach friends or family via text or Facebook Messenger in that amount of time, they will either postpone the decision until they can get group feedback or second guess their decision until long after their wedding day. Even if the decision turned out to be a great one, the discomfort they feel from having to decide without peer feedback is going to sour the overall feeling of the experience they had working with you.

The generational issue is tough for millennial business owners as well. Right now, they are faced with two choices: do things in a new and different way that makes sense to them and face the fact that it will likely be misunderstood by their older colleagues, or model their businesses and marketing on a value system that neither they nor their clients share because that is the "norm" and the way "it's always been done" and ensures an invitation into the "wedding clique" in their area. Not being accepted by your peers because you don't do things the way they do is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly for millennials who value peer approval.

This is already causing friction in the industry. In every single city I visit, the conversations go something like this:

Millennials: "The older vendors in this town just don't get it. I'm talented, I have a right to be here and I'm not going to wait around to make it happen. My god, they are not willing to help anyone but themselves."
Boomers and Gen X: "The younger vendors in this town just don't get it. I had to work my way up, they should too. My god, they are so entitled."

Gen X values paying your dues and working your way up. Millennials, not so much. Yet, millennials crave mentorship, value heritage, and are willing to listen to anyone with a smart idea, regardless of how old that person is. They do not share the Boomer mindset of "Don't trust anyone over 30" nor the "Damn the man" mantra embraced by so many Gen Xers. Millennials believe that the industry is also "stronger together" and many are mystified as to why their older colleagues aren't willing to sit down in a group and work together to make that happen.

In addition to the wedding industry trying to figure out how to reach this new generation of brides and grooms, it also needs to figure out how to coexist as different generations of competitors and colleagues.

Originally published March 2012

You Have a Dream Job

It was one of those days. You know those days where everything seems to be going wrong before the coffee maker is finished percolating. It didn’t get any better after that first cup either.

Later that afternoon, I arrived at a meeting looking completely put together on the outside but still totally frazzled in reality. While I and another person waited for the rest of the group to arrive, we made small talk. I asked her how she got started down her career path when she made the comment, “My dream is to do what you do.”

Owning a company is hard and it’s not for everyone. For me though, it’s still a zillion times better than working for someone else. Even the days where nothing seems to go right are still far fewer than the days where I feel really lucky to be able to get to do work that I love in a way that I want to do it.

If you wake up every day hating your job, find a way to change it. This is not always an easy endeavor, but it is a necessary one. There are a lot of people out there dreaming of having your job.

Originally published September 2011