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Engaging a ‘bridezilla’
Marketers are saying ‘I do’ to the wedding industry, which is worth $700 million a year in the Middle East.
February 19, 2010 11:20 by Radhina Coutinho
Lama Al Saheb, head of marketing and PR-Middle East at the World Gold Council – which partnered with Taiba Gold & Jewellery earlier this year to launch a bridal gold jewellery collection called Yalghalia in Saudi Arabia – says women’s desire to feel extra special, especially to adorn themselves, is all the more pronounced in countries like Saudi Arabia where women have fewer occasions to dress up.
“The wedding season is the time for women to come out and stand out. This isn’t just for the bride, but for sisters, cousins, mothers, eligible young bachelorettes… Jewellery has to make an impact and this is what we try to put across, as during the wedding season all women want to make an impression,” says Al Saheb.
Traditions and expectations
Women’s desire to shine during the wedding season is helped by tradition, expectations and prestige. “It is part of the Asian tradition to give gold and diamond jewellery during marriages and engagements. This aspect is helping the [Gulf jewellery] sector and, in spite of the global recession, the industry has not experienced a major setback so far,” says Rihen Mehta, executive director of diamond and jewellery company Rosy Blue.
Al Saheb agrees: “Weddings offer the perfect platform for the sale of gold, as no Arab woman – or parents of an Arab bride – will consider not having gold as part of the dowry. Brides will always receive gold as part of their dowry or as gifts from the groom, father or brother. The wedding season accounts for a huge percentage of gold sales in Saudi Arabia, around 60 per cent officially, but it may be more.
“There is a natural fit in terms of the qualities gold possesses and the wedding occasion. Purity, because gold is a pure metal that doesn’t get tarnished; positivity, because it is a warm element; security in terms of its real and enduring value; and love, as gold bands are a symbol of one of life’s most meaningful relationships. These qualities are what the messaging focuses on.”
The wedding industry has been relatively immune to the recession: women plan their weddings for years, so they are unlikely to let a downturn spoil this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. But though over-the-top extravagance has continued – the Bride Show Dubai 2009 saw four orders placed for designer Ahmed Al Reyaysa’s 1 million-dirham wedding dress, replete with half a million Swarovski crystals, and guests at two UAE royal weddings enjoyed Swarovski-encrusted bottles of water – weddings are by no means money-is-no-object events for most people. Brides shop around for the best deals and expect good service.