Market Focus USA - Part 5

April 2005

US Bridal Market

The US market is made up of a number of smaller, sub-markets – fashion, diamond, complications, sports, technology, outdoor, diving and more. One under developed example is the US bridal market, a huge market for watches but one that has not really been targeted by brands. Some jewellers and watch retailers have made a push to gain access to the market, but in general it has been pretty much overlooked by most brands and retailers.
Here are some hard facts and figures about marriage in the US:

Marriages per year: 2.33 million
Average Age when married: bride: 27, groom: 29
The number of 27 year olds is projected to grow by 30% from 2003 to 2017 (14% growth is projected over the next four years)
Brides and grooms spend US$ 9 billion on jewellery (including watches)
This year: 1 out of 64 Americans will get married
There will be: 2.3 million weddings, 1.8 million first-time weddings, 46,000 weddings every weekend, 18 million bridesmaids and groomsmen, 304 million wedding guests.
Couples get married year round (highest months: June, July, August and October; all at 10%)

The survey
To get a better indication of actual numbers and tendencies, the Conde Nast Bridal Group and Bride's Magazine, designed and implemented an on-line survey to gauge bridal interest in watches as gifts and to delve into the reasons why brides and grooms choose watches.
1026 women completed the on-line survey, of whom 871 are planning to exchange wedding gifts with their grooms. Here are the watch-related findings:

The Bride to the Groom
* 85% of couples will exchange wedding presents
* The bride's present to the groom averages US$ 438. In households with incomes exceeding US$ 100,000, the average gift is US$ 678
* 26% of brides give their grooms a watch and will spend on average US$ 589 for this most often mentioned gift. Brands mentioned most often include Movado (12%), Citizen (12%), TAG Heuer (11%) and Seiko (10%). Other brands include Swiss Army (7%), Rolex (7%), Fossil (3%), Gucci (3%), Omega (3%), Tiffany & Co. (3%), Cartier (2%) and Pulsar (2%). Other brands mentioned include Baume & Mercier, Breitling, Corum, Concord, ESQ, Guess, Hermes, Kenneth Cole, Raymond Weil and Timex.
* One in three brides will give a watch because it is perceived as timeless, a lasting remembrance, a classic gift, a daily reminder of their special day and life together. This is a gift their grooms want (20%) or need (16%).
* 71% of the brides buying a watch will have it engraved. 47% of the watches will be quartz, while 25% will be mechanical. 19% of the watches will have diamond enhancements.
* Most brides will purchase their groom's watch at a local independent retailer (49%) or at a department store (40%). Others will purchase their groom's watch through on-line retailers (7%), on-line discounters (2%), bridal stores (2%) or a catalogue house (0.4%). 78% said that the store where they purchase the watch is a different place from where the wedding jewellery was purchased.
* 99% agree that design/appearance is an important factor in the watch purchase decision.
* 88% agree that price is an important factor in the watch purchase decision.
* 79% agree that engraving is an important factor.
* 79% agree that quartz/mechanical is an important factor.
* 59% agree that features are important factors in the watch purchase decision.

The Groom to the Bride
*The groom's present to the bride averages US$ 459. In households with incomes exceeding US$ 100,000, the average gift is US$ 764
* 4% of grooms give their brides a watch and will spend on average US$ 609 for this most often mentioned gift. The brand most often mentioned was Movado (8%), followed by Cartier (2%) and Bulova (2%). Other brands mentioned include Baume & Mercier, Citizen, Fossil, Gucci, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Seiko, TAG Heuer and Tiffany & Co.
*59% of the brides expect the watch will be engraved. 47% of the watches will be quartz, while 24% will be mechanical. 53% of the watches will have diamond enhancements.
* Most grooms will purchase their bride's watch at a department store (50%) or at a local independent retailer (44%). Others will purchase their bride's watch through on-line retailers (3%) or on-line discounters (3%).
* 77% of brides expect to purchase jewellery for themselves and/or receive jewellery as a gift for their wedding. Among these brides, 8% will purchase/receive a watch.
* Most (90%) agree that a fine timepiece is something to aspire to.
* 30% of those surveyed are buying or receiving watches.

The Meaning behind the survey
Watches have been and will continue to be a meaningful bridal gift. More brides give their grooms watches than grooms giving watches to their brides, but that's primarily because most grooms give their brides jewellery, not watches.
“The watch represents the eternity together and happiness and is something that can be as significant to the groom as the engagement ring is to the bride,” says Peter King Hunsinger, President, Conde Nast Bridal Group. “Every time the groom looks at it, he will think of the bride. Over the last couple of years, through great marketing on the part of jewellers and watch brands, the watch is one of the important elements that a guy uses to define himself. A watch represents the forever that is such a big part of the wedding moment.
”I think there is a great opportunity for watches in the bridal market,“adds Hunsinger.”Brides, based on everything we have learned about them, love customization and personalization. They are not aware of how things can be engraved and how they can be customized—bezels, dials, casebacks, straps—so there is a great educational opportunity there, to create a watch that epitomizes the groom's personality and their relationship. The second thing they love is authenticity. If retailers can display what other brides they have worked with have chosen, engravings they have selected, show those and pictures of the real wedding and the watch she gave the groom, it plants the seed of the idea and it shows what people have really done."

In the forthcoming days, the rest of this lenghty survey will be added to our europastar website.

1. The state of the U.S economy, Distribution

2. American brands, The top brands in the U.S., The watch groups in America

3. Watch wardrobing, High-tech, The Internet, Counterfeiting and the grey market
Involving the customer

4. Case study: TAG Heuer

5. The bridal market

6. Case study: Kobold Watch Company, Watch trends and colour, Unique designs, The Future

Click here to subscribe to Europa Star Magazine.