top of page

How to Stand Out in the Crowded Indian Wedding Market

Key points:

  • High investment levels – exceeding investment in Education

  • Weddings are the second largest consumption category in India – ranking just behind Food.

  • Highly elaborate and extended ceremonies are characteristic of Indian weddings

  • Tendency to overspend is evident at all levels of society

  • High profile and celebrity weddings are driving expectations

  • A lack of investment in Retail skills training is failing to deliver the right Customer Experience

Of all the things that might make you think of India the traditional noisy, opulent and high energy wedding spectacle is the most easily identifiable.

As recognisably Indian as the Taj Mahal and spicy curries, the Indian wedding industry is big business, standing at a record size of Rs 10 lakh crore (USD 130 billion). The average expenditure on a wedding is USD 15,000, which for many couples is twice that spent on education (from primary to graduation) which is a distinct contrast to other markets such as USA where the spend is less than half that invested in education.

It is the second largest consumption category behind Food & Grocery, and reaches far beyond the obvious elaborate bridal and groom outfits. Shoes and accessories, as well food and drink, and exotic locations all benefit from this mega market. It is also a market in which the rapid influx of western Luxury brands has had little impact – although many brides will now combine a traditional lehenga with a pair of Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo heels.

With several stages in the rituals from engagement to marriage, the opportunity to spend serious money is obvious – and the tendency to overspend on a wedding is evident regardless of social or economic level.

This isn’t helped by the high profile celebrity weddings.

The Ambani family have an unrivalled record on this. Following Ishu Ambani’s wedding in 2018, the daughter of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, which was considered one of the most extravagant Indian weddings of all time with a reputed cost of 7 billion rupees, her brother Anant’s wedding to Radhika Merchant is going even further.

Over 18 months on from their engagement event at a temple in Rajasthan in December 2022, there has been a non-stop schedule of extraordinary events, parties, and concerts, with the final three-day celebration running across July 12-14. Each day requires a different dress code, providing the opportunity for further extravagance and expenditure.

Fashion designers vie with each other to dress not only the bride and groom but the family members and celebrities who attend the different lavish events. It is well known that Sabyasachi Mukherjee – still the most aspirational traditional wedding ensemble designer for many brides - built his brand and reputation around the high profile brides, grooms and family members that he dressed (initially without receiving any payment) ensuring that he was forever associated with HNWIs and celebrity. Now he’s competing with the likes of Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Manish Malhotra, and Tarun Tahiliani to dress the next celebrity brides. It’s tough to stay ahead in the Indian wedding market.

With all of this money at stake, in a highly competitive bridal market, and an increasing number of designers and brands wanting to ‘get in on the act’, I am still amazed at how little the brands invest in their retail teams and training.

It isn’t enough to just be interested in the more conspicuous celebrity wearers of their clothing, because no matter who you are your ‘bread and butter’ business comes from the less high profile customer who will quite reasonably have high expectations of service, respect, and an Added Value experience. As I was once told, ‘Every customer is a celebrity in their own right’ – but this seems to have been overlooked by even the most well-known brands.

Apart from the Sabyasachi flagship store in Mumbai, I have to say that my visits to the Indian designer fashion boutiques in Delhi and Mumbai have been disappointing. Client Discovery is usually poor and the ability of the team members to engage in any interesting conversation or convey an excited empathy with the bride-to-be is limited. There is no unique ‘Ceremony’ that makes every visit feel like a special event. The focus is too transactional, and in some cases the attitude of the staff is either too judgemental or overly deferential, both of which get in the way of creating a positive Customer Experience.

Most independent brands can’t afford an in-house training team, and those Indian brands that have moved under the big conglomerates’ umbrella may receive mainly functional or operational training rather than the soft skills development that is required.

We have worked with some of India’s leading brands to help them overcome these issues through our bespoke training programmes. As their ‘external in-house training experts’ our training is developed with the aim of turning your sales assistants into effective brand ambassadors.

And the results are impressive: Improvement in team motivation and morale is quickly evident, the average order value is higher through better upselling, and the level of satisfaction from customers who feel more valued, better understood, and helpfully guided in making some of the most important (and costly) decisions they will face, means that they will be on the way to becoming your biggest fans.

Every bride believes her Big Day (or Days) to be the most important, so retail teams have a duty to reflect and respect that in the way that they treat them. Luxury is not just about the materials, the designer, or the price tag. It is about the Experience that the customer has which becomes a memorable part in their whole wedding journey.

Whether you consider yourself to be positioned as ‘Luxury’ or ‘Premium’, your business growth can only be achieved sustainably by ensuring that your customers have a fabulous experience which encourages them to come back to you repeatedly for their future special events.

Being ambitious for growth has to be matched by the investment in your teams. Achieving stand out in a crowded bridal market needs something unique to be delivered – not just the actual items being purchased. Excellence in Experience and service is a great way to differentiate your brand.

That’s where we can help you.

If you want to grow your bridal business, connect with me and we'll have a chat about how training will help you achieve that faster.

18 views2 comments

2 commenti

I work for a well-known luxury brand in the Middle East, and although it's an international brand, it's true that I accepted the job offer and didn't receive training until nine months later. Fortunately, I had experience in the sector but that doesn't change how fundamental and essential training is to achieving goals

Mi piace
Risposta a

Thanks for your comment. Often we hear that brands 'don't need to train their people as they bring them in with experience in the sector'. The problem is that if they don't check on exactly what training the person has received during their years of experience they could just be inheriting a untrained employee who cannot add the value that they are looking for. 'Untrained with Experience' is probably more worrying than 'Untrained No Experience' as it sets up expectations of the individual that they are not able to meet.

Mi piace
bottom of page