Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cover Story - Shaadi Mubaarak: Indian Weddings & Marketing || Astha Kabra || IIM Shillong || December 2015 edition

Shaadi Mubaarak: Indian Weddings & Marketing

Astha Kabra
IIM Shillong

With the ongoing wedding season one can’t help but notice that the Indian wedding industry huge. All of us have attended a big fat Indian wedding. We have all experienced the glam and the sparkles at these weddings. What if you were to find out that in the end, an arranged marriage is nothing but a marketing process! Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds but also true. Let us look at a typical arranged marriage from a boy’s perspective and see how it is in the end the marketing concept of consumer decision making process.
Here the boy and his family is his customer. The girl is the product which the boy seeks to purchase.

Step 1. Need Recognition:

The boy and his family realise that the boy is of an agreeable age and should be married to a girl from a decent household. The boy has emotional, functional and physical needs that the girl will fulfil. There is also pressure from the household to get married (Latent Demand).

Step 2. Information Search:

After the need for marriage has been recognised, the family begins looking for the perfect girl. Generally suggestions are received from relatives and neighbours about the most suitable girl for the guy. (Internal Environment Analysis). The family also looks for various options in newspapers, on matrimonial sites and other such sources (External environment analysis). This in marketing terms is quite similar to a market survey by a customer in search of the right product.

Step 3: Evaluation of Alternatives:

The boy’s family decides to personally meet up with a few girls’ and their families in order to make the best decision. The boy’s family is given a grand welcome by the girl’s family in order to make them happy. (Customer is the King). During this meeting, the girl is well groomed and looks extremely stunning in order to make a lasting impression on the boy. (Product Packaging). After this, the families get talking and the girl’s family try to woo the boy’s family by throwing light on the qualities and achievements of the girl (Brand Offering). They try to showcase how the girl’s
qualities will be a perfect match for the needs of the guy (Value Proposition). The girl and the guy then meet up alone, away from the relatives, in order to understand each other better, so that they don’t regret it after marriage (Cognitive Dissonance). After evaluating all the alternatives in the similar manner, finally the boy’s family decides upon the girl that the boy will marry (Purchase decision making). The girl that best fits the needs of the family and boy is chosen as ‘the one’ (Customer Value Satisfaction).

Step 4. Purchase:

After all this, we come to the actual wedding where finally the boy and girl get married. (Customer turns into consumer). Yes, this is what most of us see, the big fat Indian wedding.

Step 5. Post Purchase Evaluation:

The girl and the boy live a life together, rejoicing in the decision that they made after so much deliberation. Well, mostly rejoicing, as much as one can in a marriage. Even in the wedding, other families get influenced and feel the need to get their children married off too. (Domino effect). 
And the entire cycle repeats, only for different products and different customers.

Having seen how weddings are the perfect case study for marketing, let us now look at the Indian wedding market in detail!

We still live by the good old times!

Even today Indian weddings are about more than just the nuptials of a bride and a groom. In India, since the times of Maharajas, weddings have rarely been about just a girl marrying another guy. Weddings then were about one kingdom getting married to another kingdom. Today, it is one family getting married to another family. And the recent trend of grand palatial weddings is a living embodiment of the fact that we are not ready to let go the good old wedding style out of fashion yet! So even though the golden age of kings and maharajas has ended, the tradition of opulent weddings continues to this day. Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, one of the prominent and most sought after designers in the Indian wedding market, very aptly explains how this constant struggle for class works. “There is royalty. Then there is old money. Then there is new money trying to look like old money. Then there is new money. Then there is new, new money, and very, very new money. Then there is upper middle class, and middle class. And everybody wants to move upwards.” With each passing decade the Indian weddings are getting grandeur. However, no one’s complaining; at least not the retailers and associated players!

Who said only one wins the race?

Be it entertainment, beauty clinics, cosmetic giants, interior decorators, or a matrimonial
website, everyone gains from the booming wedding market. Inspired by this, a lot of foreigners solemnise their weddings in India, only adding to the grandeur and the scale of this industry. Think only e--commerce websites are making money by the hour today? Various online portals like,, garner close to 250 crores each year from match making. With the belief that this business is only going to get bigger and better, various start-ups in on similar lines are coming up.
Start-ups like and have found a way to make a way straight into the hearts of Indian parents and have created a niche for themselves in the market. If these online websites are booming, the event managers, fashion designers florists, confectionery makers are not very far behind. Palace look a likes and replicas of famous temples of India are a very common demand as décor. Destination weddings and expensive décor is the way to go today. Add to this the demand for exotic food items for different functions. Cuisines like Continental, Lebanese, Italian or Mexican are in huge demand today. 

Small things matter the most!

The smaller associates of a wedding are also booming because of the wedding market. Take for example the wedding card market in India. From 10 million weddings performed annually in the country, they rake up close to 10,000 crores. Gone are the days when wedding invite was a simple declaration of a marriage between two people. Wedding invites today are more of a style statement. An elaborate wedding card comes with the main card and around four add ons like the reception, engagement, mehendi and sangeet functions invite. Last, but definitely not the least, the wedding apparel industry is on a huge rise. With people becoming more and more style conscious and wanting to don the trending clothes, it is impossible for this industry to not spread its wings. Indian weddings are incomplete without the dhols, bands, baggies with horses, elephants and camels, elegant lightings and beautiful flowers. Estimated at around Rs 5000 crores annually, this segment of the Indian wedding is in itself a booming industry.

Wedding Start-ups to watch out for!

Did you think that after all these numbers, the Indian wedding market was saturated and had no place for any innovation? Well these start-ups surely disagree and are all set to bring about creative disruption in the wedding industry!

1. Marrily

Marrily was founded in August 2015 by Sourabh Varma, Ajay Pandey, Harsh Vardhan, all alumni from IIT Kanpur. Marrily is a Mumbai based matchmaking start up that believes in first connecting, then committing. This mobile only app uses Facebook for registration. In order to ensure that only genuine users sign up the app also requires a selfie for verification at the time of registration. Having experienced the pain, frustration and awkwardness of the process of getting married, Sourabh, one of the co-founders at Marrily found the gap in the market and decided to make life better for others facing similar problems. By using an algorithm to suggest matches, Marrily connects mutually interested people over in-app chat. Only after both of them discover mutual compatibility and are sure of taking it ahead, Marrily notifies family members about the same. With the freemium model, free for basic functions and paid premium versions, the app has built a base of 500 users and about 15% users visit the app on a daily basis. The ability of a person to accept or reject other profile without any notification is the USP of Marrilly. While the Android version is available for free, the iOS version is under development.

2. WeddingPlz 

A wedding search portal, WeddingPlz is a start-up that helps people plan their weddings, right from idea to execution. WeddingPlz helps in finding every wedding product and service
such as parlour services, music and band services, floral decoration, catering, jeweller and thousand other small things that are a must for a grand wedding. With listing and detailed information of more than 37,500 vendors across 41 categories, WeddingPlz has spread its wings in Mumbai, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Bangalore within two years of incubation. Apart from regular features of a search portal, other 
features of WeddingPlz include various planning tools such as guest list, e-invites, budget, wedding checklist etc. WeddingPlz’s USP lies in its offering of a wedding website for their to-be-married couples, where in users can create and share personal wedding website free of cost. With the launch of mobile app by the end of 2014, the start-up is growing strong and steady. WeddingPlz plans to come up with its own wedding directory of wedding vendors. As far as expansion plans are considered, WeddingPlz aims to gain string presence in more than 16 cities by the end of 2016. With about 100+ paying customers in its early revenue stage, WeddingPlz has generated 40000+ leads till date and has over 3 lakhs visits each month.

3. Marry In a Week

As innovative as their name, MarryinaWeek is a matrimony portal which features, in rotation,
profile that is listed on the platform for a week. This cycle repeats itself every month. Thus, unlike other matrimonial websites, each featured profile becomes visible to all potential matches and generates interest in each registered user profile. Each time an interest is generated, it expires in 7 days. Thus the user who has received interest, must accept or reject the interest before expiry. This makes this process as efficient as it can be. Alsoit increases the visibility and interests per registered profile. Launched in April 2015, the start-up raised around Rs. 1.5 crore as seed funding and has received 8000 organic downloads so far. The start up has recently acquired Parikshalabs which will be launched soon. Also its marketplace app, a one stop wedding search portal, will be launched soon.

Thus we can see that the wedding market in India is in nowhere near saturation. The wedding market in India is expected to double in the next few years. This points towards only one thing that is Indian weddings and the associated industries are bound to prosper! All we as marketers can do is surf the wave and successfully showcase our skills at this true marketing platform. After all, all the world’s a wedding stage, well sort of!