It was Frank Sinatra who sang the great line about love and marriage: “You can’t have one without the other.” The marketing team at David’s Bridal might like to add to that lyric. Because as of Tuesday (Dec. 8), they would say that loyalty must be added to love to make a marriage, as the company launches the first rewards program in its 70-year history.
It’s called the Diamond Loyalty Program by David’s. The company says it’s the first national bridal retailer to make this move, and the program’s unique design will earn points for the retailer among its brides as well as its business partners.
Here’s how it works: The bride signs up for the program and immediately unlocks special offers from David’s as well as its destination partners. The bride gets one diamond point for every dollar spent, which includes bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories. Then she builds a loyalty community for her wedding by sharing her diamond number (phone number) with friends, family and wedding guests, so that all of their purchases count toward her account. That can also be socialized via a specially designed insert to include in wedding invitations. And every bride who signs up for the program is automatically entered to win a free honeymoon.
The program has two unique elements: First, it allows the bride to create her own community for the wedding and have that community contribute toward the loyalty program. Second, it keeps the loyalty program business within the David’s Bridal network of partners, which includes destinations like The Ritz-Carlton Spa, the St. Regis spas, Marriott Spa Hotels, and the Heavenly Spa at the Westin, as well as at retail partners like Blue Nile, Shutterfly, Something Borrowed Blooms, The Wedding Hashers, Miss to Mrs. and more.
Kelly Cook, David’s Bridal’s chief marketing and IT officer, said the idea for the program came from a corporate “jam session” to develop ideas for the brand and to further CEO Jim Marcum’s direction for the company, which is more service-oriented. The idea was tested both formally and informally among its customer base. During the research phase, the team discovered that two things stood out. First, the “free honeymoon” offer crystalized everything they were trying to accomplish and communicate with the program. Second: The ability to invite participation from guests and families was a huge usage factor.
“We have qualitative research and quantitative research,” Cook told PYMNTS. “We have a tremendous amount of research coming from our social media channels, but more importantly, since August, we’ve spoken to 127,000 brides who have completed a pre-appointment quiz. Our team does a good job of getting something out quickly if we want to know something right away. We started down this track of really putting the meat on the bones around Diamond about two months ago. There were so many elements to it, and we had to simplify all of that into one phrase: free honeymoon.”
The program comes in the middle of pandemic disruption for the wedding industry, which has left Cook and her team to reconfigure the personas they use for their customer base. For example, one is the “right now” bride who needs a wedding dress and bridesmaids’ dresses within 72 hours. David’s now stocks more than 300,000 dresses for that cohort. Another type is what Cook calls the “COVID bride,” who has had to move her date multiple times due to the pandemic. Then there’s the unsure bride who is trying to see if she can schedule a wedding in 2021, which is filling up fast – David’s Bridal’s research shows that 90 percent of venue space is booked from April through October next year. There’s also a new wave of brides who are planning several events to celebrate – maybe a bride will plan a “minimony” wedding ceremony this year and a bigger event for next year, anticipating the passing of the pandemic.
The intelligence Cook and her team have gathered about their customer base comes from constant and innovative ways to communicate during the pandemic, including virtual stylists and augmented reality dress fitting.
“We’ve also seen a lot of our customers getting married, officially in a very small ceremony, maybe in their grandparents’ backyard or at their parents’ house with just their immediate family,” Cook said. “We help get them their dress for that, and then they’re still planning on having a larger wedding down the road. So our virtual stylists build relationships with them and have continuing conversations – if they want to alter a dress for their small ceremony, they can do that, and if they want to get a more formal second dress, they can do that as well.”
All of that can be part of the Diamond program. Cook brings the effort back to the customer-first mentality at David’s.
“Our entire leadership team really believes in this service mentality,” she noted. “We’re constantly reading reviews from customers, seeing what people are saying online, and even communicating with our brides during the weekend. The reason these initiatives are working so well is that the team is listening so closely to our brides, all the time, and everything we’re doing is for a reason.”
Cook is bullish on 2021. She says the company has seen more than 700,000 weddings moved from this year to next year, with a wave of newly engaged brides coming during the Christmas to Valentine’s Day season.