David’s Bridal had grown from loss in 1996 to more than $1 billion in sales by 2011 under the leadership of then-CEO Robert Huth. Despite the success, Huth was thinking about future growth; the wedding industry wasn’t what it used to be, and couples were waiting longer to get married and spending less money on the big day.
Most brides were already aware of David’s Bridal and visited its website. Many registered, providing their email addresses in exchange for helpful tools. The company needed to drive more of those who registered online to walk into its stores. But first they had to learn about their target audience.
Over the course of six months, the marketing team tested different email approaches with these potential customers. Brides received messages that were emotional (focusing on elegance), promotional (focusing on sales) or rational (focusing on quality), and a fourth group received no email message at all. The results were unexpected for the world of fashion marketing; rational messaging proved to have the highest revenue impact.
Read more about the surprising lessons the David’s Bridal team learned in Darden Professor Kim Whitler’s article “Selling Gowns to (Rational) Millennial Brides” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.