The role of traditional and non-traditional marketing and identity creation, formation and manipulation on wedding consumer motivation and consumption
(2014) The role of traditional and non-traditional marketing and identity creation, formation and manipulation on wedding consumer motivation and consumption, no. 72.
ABSTRACT This dissertation aims to investigate wedding consumer motivation and consumption and the rise in lavish and excessive weddings. It is believed by the researcher that traditional and non- traditional marketing methods contribute to this through the promotion of the big white wedding as a cultural ideal-against which all weddings will be compared (Howard, 2000). Traditional marketing materials such as those of wedding services and providers, advertisers and magazines arguably fuel the fantasy wedding ideal and contribute to increased wedding expenses. Non-traditional marketing materials such as the internet, social media and blogs are arguably playing an ever greater role as a source of bridal inspiration with the majority of brides now using online sources for wedding inspiration- despite its direct link with consumption. Identity manipulation is also of central importance, with status and symbolic purchasing being common at weddings due to the high communication stakes between the bridal party their wedding guests. A qualitative data collection approach was chosen, consisting of semi-structured interviews with nine brides and five service providers to allow a holistic understanding of the wedding environment within which consumption operates. Interviews were recorded and all interviews transcribed at a later date- before conducting coding and categorization (Bryman, 2008). The research found that the wedding industry contributed to increased wedding expenses due to increased prices for wedding related products and services and the increase in services necessary to fulfil the white wedding ideal, particularly in relation to pre-wedding bridal preparation. Surprisingly, the majority of brides did not use wedding magazines as a source of inspiration and would not if they were cheaper- due to materials being found freely online. Despite this, however, wedding trends promoted by the wedding industry and magazines were still found to have a direct influence of wedding consumption- in terms of the style and theme of the wedding and the demand for products by wedding industry providers. Not surprisingly, online sources were cited as a source of inspiration by the majority of brides. Google searches and Google images provided a foundation for brides when accessing a wealth of wedding materials online. Price comparison sites, such as EBay and Amazon, were also stated by brides as being used to find the best deals. Social media and blogs such as Facebook and Pinterest were also popular, with some brides being particularly dependent on Pinterest as a source of inspiration, and service providers arguing that Facebook is useful in encouraging customers to engage with their products and services, highlighting the direct link between social media and consumption. Identity was furthermore cited as influencing purchasing by the majority of brides, with the common belief being that the best way to achieve is through the purchasing of finishing touches and décor items, arguably highlighting the link between identity and wedding consumption. Status was also mentioned by brides as to one of the reasons why some brides spend so much time and money on their wedding day, with this being mentioned by brides in relation to venue, alcoholic beverages and designer clothing. In conclusion, therefore, it can be argued that while traditional related marketing materials do play a role in influencing bridal motivation, they have a greater role in promoting advertising images which set benchmarked standards for weddings and also the bride, resulting in increased bridal insecurities, stress and pressure. Non-traditional marketing materials such as social media, and in particular Pinterest, are arguably the primary source of wedding day inspiration, with some brides spending hours and hours each day engaging with online materials. Identity was found to have a direct link to wedding day consumption, through the personalization of the wedding, and a desire for people to know who's wedding they were attending based on the appearance of the wedding.