Be sure to offer customers a little of this, a little of that
When it comes to a wedding, the classic "Something old, something new ... " might apply in the traditional sense. But when it comes to bridal offerings and party stores, it might be more accurate to say "A little of this, a little of that ...." It's impossible to be all things to all people, so offering a little something in terms of partyware, balloons or favors and accessories is the key to them saying "I do" to more sales.
Mix and Match
Color is one of the most important factors in bridal décor, and Amscan's Robyn Behring said their new wedding product for 2012 allows any bride to create a unique color story or match a previously chosen one. Their new 2012 bridal concept starts with solid color on-trend wedding decorations and features elegant tableware and accessory designs. The goal is to provide the bride with the greatest number of options to personalize her wedding.
"Most people want their wedding to reflect what's on trend, but at the same time be very personal," Behring said. "What we've achieved here gives them the opportunity to be very current and yet very personal and unique."
Amscan also has introduced numerous solid color paper decorations that key off the success of their everyday formats. Sophisticated lanterns, fluffy decorations, garlands and a new vase centerpiece with paper flowers can be mixed and matched with the bride's personalized color story. Another popular format is the Personalized Banner Kit, which allows any consumer to personalize the message and use it for multiple events.
"The new product assortment is versatile and can easily be used to celebrate multiple occasions such as bridal showers, engagement parties, anniversary parties, destination wedding brunches and bon voyages," Behring said. "Some of Amscan's wedding ensembles can also be used to celebrate a 25th or 50th anniversary. By adding anniversary-specific napkins, you're increasing the selling opportunity."
Merchandising decorations by color story is a very key point because it really draws the bride or the person shopping for the party into that statement and enables that person to customize their party. Amscan also suggests merchandising tableware separately from decorations, as an ensemble may cross more than one color story, thus encouraging mixing and matching.
Sara Theede of Hortense B. Hewitt noted that when it comes to classic bridal items such as invitations, favors and accessories, vintage is a popular trend, featuring lace, brooches, delicate designs and vintage keys, and that muted colors such as ivories and blush pinks are predominant in the vintage look.
"We are excited to introduce delicate laser-cut shimmer favor designs that are a nice tie-in to the vintage trend," Thede said. "Our offering includes favor boxes and cupcake wraps, as cupcakes remain a popular alternative to wedding cake. Our vintage assortment also includes wedding collections with intricate lace designs, garters with vintage brooch embellishments and ornate crest designs featured on toasting flutes and guest books."
The peacock theme is still going strong, highlighted by rich teals, emerald greens and blues, and peacock feathers seen in fashion are being used by brides to accent everything from their bouquet to their cake to their invitations. Soft white feathers are particularly popular, and Thede said these feathers are often accented with silver brooches or "bling."
"Damask continues to be successful, most often in black and white," she added. "A pop of color, such as teal, apple green or fuchsia often is used to accent the black and white look. In addition, tonal damask and damask patterns that feature two colors are gaining popularity."
When it comes to bridal balloons, expect the bold color pairings of 2011 to continue into 2012, including deep pink, sunny yellow and lime green. Neutrals will make a comeback in the same time frame; however, the choices - such as beige, pale pinks, and blue - will convey tranquility.
Lisa Bennett, product management director for Pioneer Balloon Co., said that all-out reception themes will increase in popularity as well.
"For example, you'll see wine lovers with cork and bottle décor and even wine tastings," she said. "Or seaside themes with everything from beach décor to a seafood dinner. These themes should be embraced and incorporated into everything from the invitations to the favors."
She agreed with Thede that brides also are incorporating "bling" and glitter everywhere, from invitations and cake to bouquets and table centerpieces to their gowns and hair. On the other end of the spectrum, "green" and eco-friendly wedding themes are also gaining popularity.
"Qualatex latex balloons are biodegradable and made from 100 percent natural latex," Bennett said, "so they can be promoted to brides as an environmentally-friendly décor option."
Qualatex is also introducing new neck-up 3-foot latex balloons featuring designs like butterflies and flowers. Bennett said they're ideal for air-filled wedding décor that can be suspended from the ceiling, and it only takes a few of them to make a big impact. Because they're Diamond Clear, they can be double-stuffed with solid-color 3-foot latex to match any wedding color, or filled with smaller latex balloons for a "gumball" effect.
What are the best ways to let brides-to-be know just what you can offer?
Bennett suggests suspending air-filled balloons (such as a garland or 3-foot neck-up latex) above the wedding section in your store will draw attention and direct customers. In addition, create storyboards that reflect a particular trend by incorporating different products from all areas. Display these boards to give customers ideas of how to mix and match with the latest colors, patterns, and textures.
"Create a themed window display or in-store display to show coordinating wedding products," she added. "Add a mock reception table complete with linens, a balloon centerpiece or bouquet and favors. Setting the scene like this will help brides visualize ideas for their own reception."
Set up a display of inflated latex balloons that match the 2012 wedding color trends and display a Custom Color Chart to let brides know you can create any color by double-stuffing latex balloons.
Another simple solution is to establish a "go-to" section in your store to display everything that you offer for bridal showers and bachelorette parties.
"If possible, double placement within product sections is always a great idea to make sure you cover everyone's shopping patterns," Bennett said. "If you don't have the space, try using signage within the appropriate product sections to direct customers to related products."
If customers can easily find what they need - a little of this and a whole lot of that - they'll walk down the aisle and out of your store saying, "I do."
By Abby Heugel