Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Indian Wedding: An Opportunity for Marketers!!!




Dilpreet Singh Gandhi , IIM Shillong


An industry, which is pretty recession proof, which gives an ample amount of opportunities to any creative person to let open his wings of imagination, which provides a chance to a shrewd businessman to exploit the huge untapped potential, is none other than the Indian Wedding Industry.
India is a country well known for its festivals, colorful life style and a unique way of celebrating the events. From time immemorial, weddings are sacred ceremonies in the Indian society. Now the importance of these occasions as an industry has up-scaled thanks to the burgeoning spending vis-a-vis its association as a status symbol in the society. Also, situation has come to such an extent that one wants to have a customized marriage i.e. somewhat different from the usual one in terms of decorations, catering, etc. to make it memorable one for all attendees. But the problem is that people are facing time

Wedding Planners
Generally in a wedding only certain aspects -like d├ęcor and catering – are outsourced. Now the time has changed and even the entire event is coordinated and managed by professional service providers i.e. wedding planners.
In simple terms, the main objective of a wedding planner is to remove the headache of bride’s father or his counterpart regarding the wedding arrangement and make it a successful event. Till now untouched, this industry is actually a part of event management industry.
Wedding industry is well established and flourishing in many countries. In India, wedding planner sector is in growth phase. The TIV (Total Industrial Volume) of this industry is about Rs. 1250 billions, and is growing at a stupendous rate of 25¬30% annually.
The work of wedding planners include all the activities related to wedding starting from selecting the venue, arranging for accommodation of guests, transportation, food, lighting, flowers, trousseaus, photography and video making, to even planning for the honeymoon packages for the newly wedded couples. Also some of the players of this field are making theme wedding settings like Japanese, Royal Rajasthani, or Gujarati etc. All these are planned and executed according to the client’s requirement and budget, to provide him maximum satisfaction from the services. Adhering to service compliance builds the promotion vehicle by word of mouth.
Target Market
For any industry to decide its target market, the first principle of marketing is to do a comprehensive market research. In this sector the target segment could be in terms of geographical areas, religions, economic level of your customers, and customized service requirements. Geographical area wise north India and Kolkata are major markets for wedding industry. Planner should be well acquainted with the various rituals and wedding events of the targeted castes and religions.

Nature & Growth of Business
Wedding industry is seasonal in nature. In India, people generally take advice from pundits and priests before taking such an important decision. Hence this industry thrives in certain auspicious months e.g. post October is considered as peak season.
According to Industry Pundits a good wedding in India takes place for about crore and a half, but the average wedding expenses for a middle class family is still about Rs 15 lakhs excluding jewelry. And it lasts for about 2 days to even 15 days.
In rich and powerful families, concept of Big Fat Wedding is in vogue now. Disposable money with these people is increasing, leading towards a desire to do something different in their wedding occasions. Customers not only expect a wedding in a five star hotel but also some unique arrangements. These could be entertainment shows by Bollywood celebs, theme wedding, dresses designed by big names of the fashion field etc.
Starters can initiate their business from any facet of wedding planning may be from bridal consultants, florists, caterers, etc. before entering in a fully fledged way. With experience, this could provide an annual turnover of about 1 crore.

Wedding planners are targeting both the Big Fat weddings and also the middle class in a single go.

Value Proposition
For attracting customers in this field, what could be the value proposition of a planner?
In this sector experience counts more than any professional degree or diploma. Hence planners should have talent, skills, and knowledge about intricacies of tradition. These skills lead to provide an end to end solution to the customers, such that planner becomes like a part of the family during wedding period and the actual host does not feel pain of organizing and can enjoy the event to the fullest.

One more aspect which can fulfill the sustainability objectives of this industry as well as can provide competitive advantage in the market is Green Wedding.
In services industry like this, reputation in the market is of prime importance. One failure could result in negative word of mouth campaign, so the risk management and ability to handle every eventuality are the major tools of a planner.
Importance of professional education might be less here, but it cannot be discarded. In India lack of awareness and unavailability of proper courses in this field makes it unorganised. Some experienced wedding planners have started to provide short term courses; there are short term 3 month certificate

courses in wedding planning by Eventwala -Academy of Event Management and Training, Pune and College of Events & Media (COEM, Pune). These courses can act as an added advantage for the professionals in the wedding planning field.

One more aspect which can fulfill the sustainability objectives of this industry as well as can provide competitive advantage in the market is Green Wedding.
It is a wedding which results in minimal harm to the environment. In December 2001, some people from a nearby village of Dehradun took the initiative of going for green wedding. They followed the concept of “a tree by each bride-and¬groom” to generate awareness and follow their path. This act was insufficient to make people responsible towards environment, but now this concept is gaining ground. Now-a-days sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are the buzz words in corporate world. Hence green wedding provides a chance to wedding planners to not only fulfill their part of responsibilities towards environment but also make this concept as part of their value proposition to attract big industrialist and politicians as their clients, because the society also expects these public figures to promote sustainability initiatives.

The concept is also making inroads in other countries at a fast pace. In United Kingdom there are some specialist Green Wedding Planners have started operation. The concept of sustainability can be valuable in many ways, like using recycled paper for invitation letter, wearing clothes made of organic cotton and bamboo etc., distributing the excess food in
orphanages, using organic flowers, avoiding use of fire crackers, using cloth napkins rather than that of paper and using bio gas tank to cook food etc. All this will lead to positive impact on environment as well as on society.


Major Players & their Strategies
There is a huge growth potential in this industry, which is attracting many biggies of event management. PDM-WMS (Percept D’Mark), 70 EMG, Touchwood Entertainment and Wizcraft’s wedding management division are some of the major players. Also, UK giant Tania Tapel set up its base in India last year.
These companies have more than ten years of experience in event management but are new in wedding planning e.g. PDM-WMS has organized one of the most talked about marriages of India i.e. of the Saharas’.
All these are leading to new practices in wedding industry. Last year, Ruia’s wedding in Mumbai, showcased events like Dutch circus, a live band, acrobatics and an orchestra for the entertainment of the guests -leading to addition of one more name in the lavish Indian Weddings history. Also this wedding included performance of renowned artists Richard Marx and The Gypsy Kings.

Even Indian companies are making alliances with foreign professional to share expertise. Ferns and Patel, known for its exceptional floral arrangement, tied up with celebrity event designer Preston Bailey. Preston has experience in techniques which have never been used in India like use of theatrical sets, providing a different touch to Indian wedding scenario.

No one can forget the extravaganza of wedding celebrations of Mittals’, Saharas’, Chatwals’ and Bachchans’, boosting the industry and also attracting enthusiastic entrepreneurs to enter in this field.
Emerging media channels like the internet, are also acting as a catalyst for this industry. Wedding planners are attracting customers using informative websites like shadionline.com, weddingsutra.com, bharatmatrimonial.com etc.


Links to other Industries

Wedding Exhibitions & Carnivals:
Celebrating Vivaha is such an exhibition where one can find the latest in this growing wedding and fashion industry. Every year it is held in major cities of the country including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata etc. Also there is Bridal Asia, an extravagant fashion wedding exhibition which presents a range of wedding attires for brides and takes place every year in New Delhi.
There are wedding carnivals such as the Great Indian Wedding Carnival, promoted by Leading Jewelers of the World, starting this April in Mumbai and will last for two months.
Wedding Tourism: Indian weddings are known for its grandeur and luxuriousness, which attract non Indians/NRI to plan their wedding in India. This provides a new avenue to many players which are providing information related to wedding tourism on internet and helping customers in booking. Few of these are indianholiday.com, indiatourism.com etc. which highlight the various aspects of Indian wedding like Royal wedding and exotic wedding venues.

Wedding Mall: These malls act as a one stop shop for all the wedding items from invitation cards to honeymoon packages. This concept evolved to provide convenience to customers by avoiding frequent visits to market for wedding shopping. Like in Kolkata there is concept of Shagun Mall. Moreover, the Omaxe group is planning to set up a chain of wedding malls in India.
There are other industries as well which are linked to Indian wedding like hospitality, food, and gold and are positively influenced by the growth in wedding market.


Effect of Recession
Wedding industry is the least affected by recession. Even in some foreign markets, it is able to isolate itself from the recession aftermath. Like in Australia, wedding market remains unaffected. There women prefer to cut on their personal expenses rather than on wedding.
Though in India, some effect can be felt at grass root level; people are trying to save as much money as they can. This has resulted in increased bargaining power of the customers. They are trying to get the same service at the least cost or are ready to do compromise on the quality.
Generally in India, middle class people save throughout their lifetime for their children’s wedding expenses. This in fact nullifies the effect of recessionary period as they have already saved money to spend. Moreover, in a wedding, traditions and customs will remain unchanged; hence people can save some money but can’t avoid the expenses completely. Probably the situation will become clear in the near future when the effect of recession could be quantified appropriately.


Future of Industry
Wedding planners are not just for the upper class people; even the middle class working population is opting for their services. These planners work in backward direction that is first asking the budget from the customer then providing the best services within that budget. This is the main reason that this industry is becoming more acceptable in the society by catering to the requirements of every customer.
Also this industry is acting as an employment generator and the Big Fat weddings are turning this industry more attractive and sustainable. At present, most of the wedding planning businesses are family driven and there are very less professionals involved in it. Largely it is unorganized. In future, this industry is bound to flourish and could attract many management graduates to make this sector professional and organized.
There might be many players entering into this field to make weddings more majestic and eye-catching but at the core, Indian Wedding will always remain traditional.

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