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TAKING THE NEXT STEP; FUTURE BRIDES ARE LOOKING FOR DESIGN AND LIFESTYLE OPTIONS FOR REGISTRIES.

Byline: Carla Webb O'Connor

According to statistics from the Cond Nast Bridal Group, despite the fact that the number of marriages has been relatively flat for the past 25 years at approximately 1.6 million, that number is projected to grow 6.5 percent by 2009 and 19 percent, to 1.9 million annually, by 2020. This is in part due to the echo boomer generation entering marriage and the high levels of immigration into the United States since 1990.

What does this mean for home retailers and manufacturers? Now is the time to make inroads in reaching those future brides through product options and registries. And those appealing to the brides' sense of design and lifestyle will be the most successful.

"Tomorrow's bride is the most well-educated consumer we've ever dealt with," said Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Brides, which is part of the Cond Nast Bridal Group. "She expects great design at all price points and is very computer-savvy. She will shop anywhere and is very price-conscious. But she is also very status-conscious and is willing to pay more if she thinks it is worth it." She and her groom will also have more disposable income than past generations.

While registries are popping up everywhere-from travel agencies to hardware stores-traditional outlets, such as department and lifestyle stores, and traditional items, from sheets and towels to dinnerware and flatware, are still what brides and grooms want. And they are committed to investing in their new home life. Cond Nast Bridal Group's statistics show that three of the top six areas toward which they see their future dollars going are home furnishings categories.

"Whether a couple is living together before they marry, or they will be living together after, marriage is seen as a fresh start," Martini Bratten said. "It is a new phase, and brides and grooms are saying, 'Now we will sit down at our table and use our china, now we will sleep in the bed that we made together.' " In other words, she said, it's important for married couples to start with new items that they chose together as opposed to using what each has brought to the relationship.

Lifestyle stores that make the shopping experience easier and allow customers to create the look they want for their life together are the most successful at capturing the bride and groom. "We see department stores making more of an effort in this area," Martini Bratten said. "We're very visual. Stores that merchandise related products together, such as Crate & Barrel, make it easier for the bride and groom to register. And designers that take this approach, such as Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, are giving consumers the ability to put a design statement together. If we can immediately see what's available as part of that look, from pillows to the table to dinnerware, it makes more of a statement to the consumer."

HFN and the Cond Nast Bridal Group are units of Cond Nast.

Projected Growth of the Bridal Market

Baby Boom

1946-1964

18 year span

83 million

Gen X

1965-1978

13 year span

37 million

Echo Boom

1979-2002

23 year span

71 million

Future Spending

Over a 17-month period following their wedding, brides and grooms will spend their money on:

Automotive; $31 billion

Insurance; $15 billion

Financial Services; $12 billion

Furniture; $4 billion

Housewares; $3 billion

Tabletop; $413 million

Source: Cond Nast Bridal Group Infobank American Wedding Study, 2005; Roper, 2000
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Title Annotation:growth of the bridal market; Cond Nast Bridal Group
Comment:TAKING THE NEXT STEP; FUTURE BRIDES ARE LOOKING FOR DESIGN AND LIFESTYLE OPTIONS FOR REGISTRIES.(growth of the bridal market)(Cond Nast Bridal Group)
Author:O'Connor, Carla Webb
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 23, 2006
Words:576
Previous Article:BEYOND THE BOOK; BRIDAL MEDIA REMAINS AN EVER-EXPANDING ENTERPRISE.
Next Article:STORE KNOWLEDGE; THE KNOT OFFERS RETAILERS ADVICE ON HOW TO ATTRACT A BRIDE THROUGH THE REGISTRY.
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