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The Great Recession and the slow recovery have caused many couples to delay their weddings, spend much less or simply co-habit instead of marrying at all. According to The National Marriage Project 2013 report, “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” the median age for marriage is the highest ever: 27 for women and 29 for men.
In addition, the percentage of married Americans, 15 years of age or older, decreased significantly during the last 65 years.
Percentage of Married Americans, 15+, By Gender and Race, 1960–2011
The National Marriage Project, The State of Our Unions, 2012
Economics and education have been the major influences. The change in the US from a manufacturing economy to a services and technology economy has caused much higher unemployment among young adults, 16–24. It was 24.6 percent during 2010, compared to just 8 percent for young adults with a college education. In addition, during 2011, the average salary of a college graduate was 84 percent more than those with just a high school diploma. With a college education making such a difference in one’s income level, 91 percent of young adults think they should be financially independent before marrying and more than 90 percent also think they should finish their higher education, so they have the income to marry and start a family.
As the economy improved during 2013, and is projected to improve at even a higher rate during 2014 and beyond, the wedding services industry is forecasted to increase 2.3 percent through 2018, or from a $50.6-billion industry for 2013 to approximately $51.76 billion. Most wedding services will benefit from this increase. Lingerie, swimwear & bridal stores will realize the largest increase, at more than 4 percent, with taxi & limousine services growing more than 3 percent. Photography is expected to increase an annualized 1.8 percent to a total of $10.5 billion in 2018 revenues. Currently, photography accounts for 13.5 percent of the total wedding services industry.
The Knot conducts its Real Wedding Study every year. Its 2013 report (of brides and grooms surveyed during 2012) stated that brides had an average household income of more than $84,000, 82 percent had a college degree and 74 percent were employed full-time. For men, 83 percent were employed full-time. The most popular month to become engaged was December, at 16 percent, and the most popular season was summer, at 39 percent, followed by fall, 34 percent; spring, 22 percent; and winter, 5 percent.
Another good sign was the increase in the total average cost of a wedding. The Knot found that the 2011 total of $27,021 increased to $28,427 for 2012. The average photography cost increased from $2,299 to $2,379 and videography from $1,486 to $1,619. If you’re already a wedding photographer/videographer and your invoices doesn’t equal these averages, then you may be undercharging for your services. If the market will bear a higher average cost, then you may want to consider increasing your prices.
The Knot B2B, the company’s educational marketing portal for professionals providing wedding services, advises that although brides tend to use Facebook and Pinterest more than other social networking sites, they are more useful to you as a means to share content, such as photos, links to your blog, videos, etc. According to the marketing experts at The Knot B2B, brides are more likely to search for wedding services using a search engine and, of course, we know who is the 800-lb. gorilla in the room…Google. You can’t just hope that brides will accidentally discover your business on Facebook.
When a bride does a search for a photographer/videographer in your market area, your Google+ ad listing should appear on her search-results pages. Because Google is the primary search engine for most everyone in the world, you want to make sure you’re on Google+ with a business page and that there is accurate information on your Google Places page.
Internet Retailer reported in a June 2013 online article that AdGooroo research data revealed a 15.7-percent increase from 2011 to 2012 in total pay-per-click spending on wedding-related paid searches, or $19 million to $22 million. Searches for engagement or wedding ring generated the most 2012 US wedding-related paid search ads on Google AdWords, at 29.2 percent. Dress or gown was second at 26.8 percent. Wedding photography and videography ads had the highest average cost per click, at $2.05, which is three times more than the average for all wedding services categories, at $0.67.
Another marriage segment you might want to target with your marketing is the LGBT population. With same-sex marriages legal in many states and the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of federal recognition of these unions, there is likely to be a growing market in this community. According to the Gay Wedding Institute, 84 percent of gay men and 73 percent of lesbians pay for their weddings. Lesbian couples spend more than gay men. The Institute also reports that same-sex couples find wedding services vendors through word-of-mouth, online LGBT wedding directories and mainstream wedding directories. The research also found that 72 percent of same-sex couples are more likely to hire vendors with LGBT inclusive language and 69 percent are more favorable to vendors with LGBT inclusive photos in their marketing materials and content.
If you’re already a wedding photographer/videographer, then now is the time to increase your marketing and promotions. If you’re looking for an opportunity to become a professional photographer, then the wedding market appears to be an excellent choice for the remainder of the decade.
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