For the past five years, Multnomah County has consistently seen around twelve thousand weddings annually. According to Multnomah County population projections, the number of females here will increase by about three percent over the next five years. It is safe to conclude from these facts that there is a solid customer-base that will increase slightly in the years to come.
What is unique about Bride’s Entourage is that it places a spotlight on the wedding purchases that are typically overshadowed by the purchase of the wedding gown. Wedding gowns, on average, comprise about 6.1% of the total wedding expenditures, while the mothers' attire, attendants' attire, and accessories collectively make up another 7.8% of the total wedding expenditures. Bride’s Entourage is focusing on the 7.8% that is usually an afterthought for most bridal shops.
Bride’s Entourage is a store like no other. It creates a shopping environment in which mothers, bridesmaids, and flower girls, as well as the bride, are catered to.
There are three major market segments that will be served by Bride’s Entourage: mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-groom; attendants, which includes bridesmaids and flower girls; and brides. It is important to keep in mind that most customers who are shopping for bridal attire are in it for the experience just as much as the are in it to walk away with a purchase. That means that catering to their desire for "fun" and "pampering" will be just as critical as providing them with desirable merchandise.
For almost every bride in Multnomah County, there will be at least two mothers who will need to be outfitted for the big day. For many mothers, especially the mother-of-the-bride, the wedding of her child is second only in significance to her own wedding. As a result, the style of the gown tends to take precedence over price. These customers will want a unique shopping experience that will acknowledge their significance in the upcoming wedding.
The most common number of bridesmaids, including the maid-of-honor, is four. Because bridesmaids are typically expected to pay for their own attire, they tend to be fairly cost-conscious. If they believe that they will be able to use the dress more than once, then price becomes less of an issue. The bride usually has the final say in which dress will be chosen, which creates an interesting dynamic. On the one hand, the bride's tastes need to be accommodated, and on the other hand, the bridesmaids need to feel comfortable with the amount they are spending. Bridesmaid parties often shop as a group so that they can decide on a dress together. For groups of three or more, appointments will be recommended to ensure that proper attention and dressing room space is provided.
About 62% of all weddings have a flower girl. As with the bridesmaids' attire, the bride usually makes the decision about the style of the dress, but the parent of the flower girl usually pays for it.
In addition to helping outfit the bridal party, Bride’s Entourage will aim to accommodate brides who are still in need of the other critical pieces to go with her gown, such as shoes, a veil and/or headpiece, and jewelry. While some brides purchase the "other items" at the time that they purchase their gown, most brides choose to shop around for the accessories.
The focus of Bride’s Entourage is "everything but the wedding gown." There are nearly 40 bridal shops in the greater Portland area that focus primarily on selling wedding gowns. However, for every bride, there are, on average, at least five other females who need to be outfitted, and the bride herself will also require additional accessories.
Because most bridal shops focus on selling wedding gowns, there is minimal effort dedicated to the other necessary items. Bride’s Entourage gives the "other items" their own significance. Without the bridal gown as a distraction, the "other items" will no longer be an afterthought. Mothers and bridal attendants can have their own unique shopping experience, and brides can have a fresh environment in which to shop for their accessories.
There are over two million weddings annually in the United States, twelve thousand of which are in Multnomah County, alone. The average cost of a first wedding is currently about $20,000, and that number has consistently been increasing by about 5% each year. About 6.1% of the total wedding budget will be spent on the wedding gown, and 7.8% of the total budget will be spent on mothers' attire, attendants' attire, and accessories.
There are thousands of bridal shops nation-wide. Most of them are locally-owned, single-unit operations, however, there are increasing numbers of chains entering the marketplace. The primary focus of all bridal shops is the wedding gown. Some shops will also carry a limited selection of mothers' dresses, attendants' attire, and accessories, but their main goal is to sell wedding dresses. As a result, the market currently lacks a place to find a good selection of the other necessary items.
There are currently about 40 bridal shops in Multnomah County; however, the primary focus of all of those shops is wedding dresses, so they have a very limited selection of mothers' attire, attendants' attire, bridal footwear, and other bridal accessories. Bride’s Entourage is unique in Multnomah County in focusing on everything except the wedding gown.
Establishing a reputation for having a good selection and providing superior customer service will be key. Statistics show that brides will visit, on average, a total of six stores before purchasing their wedding gown. The "shop around before you buy" mentality may apply to the other members of the bridal party, as well, so it will be critical to provide a unique selection of items in a memorable environment. It will also be important to have a wide selection of items, so that the customers feel fulfilled with what they've seen at our store and won't feel the need to shop around.
As previously mentioned, bridesmaids tend to be more cost-conscious, so competitive pricing will be key for that segment. We will offer a wide variety of styles at different price points - again, working to assure the members of the bridal party that they are being presented with a comprehensive selection, thus reducing the need to shop around.