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If Tanishq or Taj, Manyavar or Marriott release a wedding campaign, it may shed light on the shape of weddings in 2021: Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO, WeddingSutra

Families will make purchases because most of these buys are rooted in tradition and virus or not, the traditions will go on, says Thyagarajan.

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Parthip Thyagarajan has been at the helm of WeddingSutra.com, India's first wedding portal which he co-founded in 2000. The most prestigious wedding media brand lists the best vendors in the wedding business and is the go-to platform for brands targeting brides and grooms-to-be. 

BW Applause and Everything Experiential spoke to Parthip Thyagarajan on how Covid 19 has impacted the wedding industry and how big brands will target/communicate with the wedding segment in the short-run.  

Excerpts:

Tell us about your journey and how you started with WeddingSutra?
After completing my MBA from the Management Development Institute I joined the Times of India group where I worked for 4 years before I co-founded WeddingSutra along with Madhulika Mathur. It has been a 20-year journey full of highs and challenges. In the last 20 years, I have seen weddings and the industry metamorphosize. From the way celebrations happen in different cities, how destination weddings emerged as the choice for the affluent and the rise of well-trained and professionals from diverse backgrounds as service providers.

How will brands perceive the market size/ demand now that so many weddings are postponed?
Covid-19 has surely had a profound impact on the wedding industry. But unlike corporate events and travel, weddings are not something you can do away with if not convenient. Weddings are considered auspicious events in India and a celebration organised for 'blessings' from near and dear ones. The weddings that are on hold or postponed will happen, even if they happen on a smaller scale. Families will make purchases because most of these buys are rooted in tradition and virus or not, the traditions will go on. Even if events happen with restrictions on numbers, families will make an effort to include as many people in a range of different ways.

Now that the spending on the celebrations will reduce, what will families/ couples spend more on, and which brands/ categories are making an attempt to target this segment?
Families are now looking at more small-sized, intimate weddings: at venues closer to their home or even five-star hotels which are very adeptly geared up for wedding celebrations ensuring full safety-protocols amongst other things. Gold jewellery will continue to be an important purchase and so will 'new home' related purchases or automobiles which are seen as comfort/ security in the new life stage. And then there is gifting to close family and friends- traditional or contemporary items signifying new beginnings and for wellness, good luck and future prosperity.

What will weddings look like in the upcoming Indian advertisements?
The advertising world has already conceded to the new-normal as we slowly begin to see covid-themed ads on TV, print and social media. Similarly, wedding campaigns by venues/ celebrations spaces will highlight integral aspects related to covid safety and protection. For other categories e.g. beauty, jewellery, clothing and accessories we will continue to see a lot of emotions like the fun and joy with friends, camaraderie between families. The large number of guests may be a missing element. 

Will the "big, fat wedding theme" be back for any ad campaigns?
In the short and medium-term, the weddings will be all about personalisation and focussing on what's meaningful to you and your family. The extravaganzas of big Indian weddings are not only impractical for now but may also feel disconnected given how the world is suffering. We will see creative details, we will see the togetherness and importance of families.

How do you think international tourism boards will target Indian families/ couples for destination weddings and honeymoons?
One of the most important factors considered by Indian families and couples while zeroing in on a location for destination weddings is the flight connectivity to the country. Bolstering these can be a focus area. Working closely with the hotel chains and boutique standalone properties to offer a seamless booking experience and/or hotel buyouts. Having an SOP with hosting requirements for all the different functions of an Indian wedding, including fine print on outside caterers and decorators and hospitality service providers.

Besides leading luxury, lifestyle and beauty brands, which else categories of advertisers does WeddingSutra offer a platform to?
A host of emerging and established wedding brands are active on our website and social media. The last few years have seen the emergence of a huge number of creative entrepreneurs who have made a mark in the world of weddings- from wedding decor designers, caterers, photographers, makeup artists and choreographers. Many of them are regularly featured on our 'Real Weddings' section and our social media which have a combined following of over two million. 

Finally, the question which everyone must be asking you today-- when will big weddings re-emerge?
For quite some time weddings will be an intimate affair, they are already getting accepted as the new normal weddings. Brands for whom wedding clientele are a prime target e.g. hotel chains like Taj and Marriott, jewellery brands like Tanishq and Kalyan, and clothing like Manyavar and Raymond have already started witnessing demand from the wedding segment. What needs to be seen is how and when they release a wedding campaign in the new normal. Their campaigns/ creatives may shed light on the shape/ style of celebrations and new inspirations for brides and grooms-to-be.    


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