THE CLARUS Blog

Moving Forward: How the Pandemic Impacted David’s Bridal and Helped Launch the Industry’s First-Ever Loyalty Program – featuring Kelly Cook [Interview]

This interview is part of our Moving Forward Blog Series, where we ask major brands how they’re adapting to changing consumer expectations from a loyalty perspective post-pandemic. 

As the nation’s leading bridal and special occasion brand, David’s Bridal has made the most of the pandemic world from a customer perspective. 

In December 2020, David’s Bridal launched Diamond, Loyalty Program by David’s.

It’s the industry’s first-ever loyalty program designed for brides and their weddings.

While many brands have struggled since the pandemic began, David’s Bridal has remained innovative and forward-thinking to differentiate itself from the competition.

We caught up with Kelly Cook, Chief Marketing & IT Officer, David’s Bridal, and here’s what she had to say about:

  • The pandemic’s positive impact on her business
  • The pandemic’s impact on the brand’s customer base
  • How the landscape for wedding planning has changed
  • Diamond, the industry’s first-ever loyalty program
  • Customer loyalty goals

 

Jim Tierney: Since the pandemic started in the U.S. 13 months ago, how has David’s Bridal viewed customer loyalty and how has that approach been impacted by consumer behavioral change across the board?

Kelly Cook: Our company culture manifesto is: You’re either serving her or serving someone who is.

This is the context in which we start any customer issue. With Diamond, it started this way.

We were sitting in a meeting and I asked our marketing team, “If we were going to blow the bride away, really blow her away, what would we do for her?” And someone said, “Well – we know from our research she feels stressed and overwhelmed most of the time while she’s planning the wedding. Let’s give her something she doesn’t have to worry about. Let’s give her a free honeymoon!”

That was the genesis of Diamond. Diamond is the first-ever loyalty program in the bridal industry. We created a 100% digital, real-time rewards program during a time where customers were shopping and buying online more than ever, making it simple and seamless for them to sign-up and start receiving rewards immediately.

But what’s even better? She gets diamond points for all her guests’ purchases at David’s. So, everyone at her wedding who loves and adores her can help toward her free honeymoon.

 

Jim: What customer insights have you gleaned since the pandemic started?

Kelly: Simply put, the landscape of weddings has evolved due to the pandemic and, because of that, so too have our customers’ needs.

In fact, we’ve been checking in with brides throughout this entire experience.

We recently released the Q1 results from our Pearl Report by David’s.

Here is what they told us:

Anxiety around the Covid pandemic is now being replaced by the more-typically expected wedding planning stress and excitement.

As of March 2021, 67% of engaged brides still have not purchased their dress.

Over 70% of brides are now comfortable shopping and buying their dresses in store.

Seventy-seven percent of bridesmaids do some research online before they do anything else.

Concerns over venue availability are up 15%. She is booking her venue before she does anything due to the competitive venue landscape.

As for actual events, the return of larger wedding events is reaffirmed with the number of events limiting bridal parties dropping 12% and event guest limitations have dropped 14%.

Additionally, 29% of brides responding they will have more than five bridesmaids in their bridal party.

July and August 2021 wedding dates are up 35%, and 2022 wedding dates are up 22%.

Twenty-eight percent of brides told us they are not rescheduling their wedding date and going ahead as planned. What does this mean for Diamond Loyalty?

Open quotesSince launching in December 2020, over 336,000 members have joined. Diamond members account for 69% of sales and we’ve already had lots of customers earn their FREE honeymoon. – Kelly Cook, David’s BridalClose quotes

One of our honeymoon winners joined in February 2021 and with the help of her 20 (yes, 20) bridesmaids, she was able to reach the Sparkle level by early March and earned her free honeymoon.

Another bride shared her Diamond number with her entire wedding guest list using our Diamond invitation insert and earned her honeymoon in a few short months. That’s the beauty of this incredible program – your family and friends can help you earn points with every transaction.

 

Jim: Listening to your customers is a top priority. What are your biggest challenges now and in the future regarding customer loyalty and retention?

Kelly: We are dedicated to serving her and putting the customer at the center of everything we do. At our core, we work to create magical moments every day for our customers.

For us, we will remain focused on just that – and keep developing innovative solutions that serve her, meet her where she is, reward her, celebrate her, and create magical moments from the day she says “yes” to “I do” and beyond.

 

Jim: Can you talk about your Diamond loyalty program?

Kelly: Diamond Loyalty Program by David’s is an exclusive, all digital points-based program designed around her event. It provides her something she can’t get anywhere else.

It rewards her for her purchases AND her bridal party and wedding guests’ purchases as well. Diamond is FREE to join, and through our ongoing partnership with Popwallet, delivers exclusive offers directly to their phone immediately after signing up.

Whether the bride has one guest or a thousand, everyone who attends her wedding can use the offers and help her earn diamond points.

There are four levels in Diamond, each offering different gifts and offers: Welcome (0 – 2,999 points), Shimmer (3,000 – 3,999), Shine (4,000 – 4,999), and Sparkle (5,000+).

Upon signup, the welcome coupons are available immediately and can be shared with friends and family via text and email right from her phone.  She can also download a FREE, beautifully designed insert to be included in her wedding invitations which lets her loved ones know they can help her earn diamond points.

At each level, she unlocks FREE gifts from David’s and exclusive partners.

Wonderfully curated rewards include gifts from The Ritz-Carlton Spa, The Spa at the St. Regis Hotel, Marriott Spa Hotels, Heavenly Spa at the Westin, luxury handbags and accessories, Honeymoon Destinations to Hawaii, Jamaica, Napa Valley, Cancun, and other gorgeous locales, Blue Nile, Shutterfly, Something Borrowed Blooms, Wedding Hashers, Miss to Mrs., Bridal Guide, My Jane, Sanderling Resort, High Peaks Resort, Plunge Resort, Visit Myrtle Beach, Sandals Couples Resorts, Nashville Getaway at Renaissance Hotel Downtown, Music City Getaway at Drury Plaza Hotel Nashville Downtown, Pocono Raceway, and more. 

 

Jim: What changes have you seen among your customers in the past year?

Kelly: She’s told us three important things: Help me, guide me, and celebrate with me.

She said help me. So, we let her render a wedding dress right into her living room with our 3D + AR technology. We also built a way for her to shop virtually over Zoom with up to 100 people through our virtual video appointments.

She said guide me. We know our customers are thinking about their wedding day and night. They’re up in the middle of the night stressing about the finer details of their magical day. Now, we’re right there with them with our 24/7/365 customer support.

We also have tons of planning resources including a wedding planning toolkit, checklist, and website and registry options powered by Blueprint. We have their back throughout the entire wedding shopping and planning journey.

She said celebrate with me. Diamond Loyalty rewards customers and stretches their purchases farther by earning free gifts at every level and even a honeymoon. It also engages brides with their friends and family in a new way. Diamond rewards and celebrates our brides with gifts and prizes that she can enjoy during her wedding planning and beyond.

 

Jim: Do you think these behavioral changes will be permanent?

Kelly: We know brides want an omnichannel experience. I think many brides will still likely want to see their gown in store and experience the try-on process.

But how can we make their experience seamless from the moment they start planning at home to the moment they walk into our stores and the day she walks down the aisle.

That is a trend that I believe will remain constant and we’re poised to provide her a vast toolkit of resources to accomplish that.

 

Jim: As David’s slowly emerges from the pandemic, what are your customer loyalty goals?

Kelly:  To continue seeking and developing new and innovative ways to serve her. We want to sell her every dress in her closet.

Open quotesWe’ve worked diligently to put the customer at the center of everything we do, and we will continue to uphold that commitment. Close quotes

Through our innovative and industry-leading Diamond Loyalty program, we can foster a community of life-long customers in which she can continue to be rewarded for her purchases, engage with her friends and family to help her earn points and earn free gifts, and even a special get-away for her wedding and beyond.

 

Key Takeaways

It’s clear that David’s Bridal puts the customer at the center of everything it does.

And that is the best place to be for any brand.

Kelly talked about how hard her team worked since the pandemic to show brides that the company is there for them every step of their respective journeys.

Launching the Diamond loyalty program reinforces everything David’s Bridal stands for: Putting the customer at the center of everything it does; making her wedding and honeymoon unique and memorable; and letting wedding guests literally be key aspects of the program.

With commitment like this to its customer base, David’s Bridal will always be top-of-mind in the minds and hearts of brides.

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