Then Comes Marriage: Highlights From The Knot’s 2015 Bridal Retail Survey



Our third biannual bridal retail survey, in ­partnership with The Knot

It’s summertime in an odd-­numbered year, which means one thing: The Knot has fielded its biannual Engagement & Jewelry Study—covering ­everything from how he proposed to the kinds of gifts the couple exchanged on their wedding day—and we’ve got the highlights.

There’s much to say about the 12,844 brides and 1,276 grooms who responded to the 2015 survey: They’re more educated than in past years, more likely to be employed full-time, and more affluent (the average household income of brides grew to $94,900).

But the biggest takeaway, according to Gabrielle Rolon, director of education at The Knot, is that today’s couples crave a valuable customer experience. “Millennials want to be educated, they want to know they’re making a smart purchase,” she says. “Keep in touch with the couple after their purchase, ask them to share photos with you, and post them on Facebook.”

Rolon also advises retailers to update their online presence with the latest trend info (e.g., “Did you know that stackable wedding bands are in?”), and, crucially, make sure that their sites are optimized for mobile access. “Ninety-eight percent of brides are on their smartphones,” she says. “It’s not an option anymore; it’s a necessity.”

For more on the preferences of today’s brides and grooms, take stock of the results, shared below. Then make sure your cases are well stocked for all their wedding jewelry needs. 

 

The Research

• 98% of brides own a smartphone (up from 90% in 2013), and 3 out of 4 brides own a tablet (up from 56% in 2013).

• 67% of brides use their mobile devices to access wedding sites, and 43% use their mobile devices to browse/research ring styles prior to getting engaged.

• Grooms are more focused on the style of the setting while brides are more focused on the shape of the stone. 

• Grooms had more input when selecting the retailer: 57% vs. 43% of brides.

• Grooms spent an average of 4.8 months researching rings—and it took an average of 3.6 months to ?nd the right one.

• Grooms visisted about 5 retailers during the ring shopping process, and looked at an average of 25 rings (up from 4 retailers and 24 rings in 2013).

 

The Retailer

• Grooms who shopped at independent jewelers spent an average of $7,374 on the ring. Those who bought the ring at a chain store spent far less: $4,104.

• 75% of grooms bought the ring at a local jeweler or national chain, while 10% purchased at an online retailer.

• The No. 1 reason he didn’t buy online? He wanted to see the ring and/or stone in person, according to 74% of respondents (up from 70% in 2011).

• For the band purchase, 85% of couples went to an independent jeweler or national chain.

• 72% of grooms who purchased from a local jeweler said they were extremely satis?ed with the retailer, and 82% said they would return (compared with those who purchased at chain stores—60% of whom said they were satis?ed). 

 

The Engagement Ring

• 45% of grooms customized the ring, either by adding custom elements or by designing it from scratch (up from 41% in 2011).

• Colorless diamond center stones are the No. 1 choice for 63% of brides. 

• 49% of rings featured round center diamonds (down from 54% in 2011); 22% featured princess cuts (down from 30% in 2011). Cushions and mine cuts are on the rise. 

• 82% of brides prefer a white gold or platinum setting.

• The top 3 preferred settings are: prong setting (32%), halo/shared prong settings (22%), and pavé setting/diamonds (17%). However, nearly a third of brides are not familiar with these terms.

• The average total carat size for rings was 1.6 cts. When it came to center stones, 64% of brides received a diamond weighing 0.5–1.5 cts.

 

After the Engagement 

• Watches are a key wedding gift: 17% of grooms buy a timepiece for themselves (up from 12% in 2011), 37% gift them to groomsmen (up from 30% in 2013); and 39% of brides give a timepiece to their spouse during the relationship. 

• 65% of couples bought their bands together at the same retailers; 53% bought their bands and engagement ring at the same retailer (up from 51% in 2011).

• 51% of brides heard from the retailer after receiving the ring (23% received information about ring cleaning and care).

• Grooms are seeking a comfort fit with their bands, followed closely by a satin/brushed finish; brides, however, want diamodns in their bands.

• Grooms are open to a wide variety of metals: 30% chose tungsten/tungsten carbide, 27% chose white gold, 12% chose titanium, and 12% chose yellow gold.

• The budget for wedding bands is growing. Couples spent an average of $1,417 on the bride’s band (up by $291 over 2011) and an average of $558 on the groom’s band (up by $67 over 2011).

 

Photograph by Tom Corbett; styling by Brooke Magnaghi

Market editor: Jennifer Heebner. Makeup by Kumiko Hirose for LVA Artists. Hair by Gusléne Bubak. Manicure by Angela Marinescu. Embroidered top by Theia. Ear climber studs in 18k gold with diamonds, $3,750, Integré by Ron Rizzo, NYC, 212-813-1110, integrediamonds.com; ring in 18k gold with marquise-cut opaque gray diamond and colorless melee, $3,960, Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry, Los Angeles, 323-954-7436, pamelafroman.com; pavé disc ring in 18k rose gold with sapphires, $1,276, Arik Kastan, Los Angeles, 310-801-9132, arikkastan.com.

Source: The Knot 2015 Engagement & Jewelry Study.