Generation X Brides

"80% of the 2.3 million marriages each year belong to Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1978 and they are doing things differently across the board!  

Today's bride is better educated than their Baby Boomer parent brides. Today, she is 20% more likely than her husband to have a college degree and post graduate studies. 72% of brides are employed full time, versus 55% for Boomer brides. 41% earn as much as, or more than, their husband. Over half indicate they will delay having children.  

While these trends started with the Baby Boomer generation, the percentages were small. Now, they are national and this creates a very different decision making process. Traditional reasons - financial, security, friends, getting married to please parents, etc.- now don't even factor into the marriage-making-decision.  

The traditional lines have blurred into one big partnership. Women are playing in what has traditionally been men's roles: financial planning and car buying while men are playing in women's areas, becoming involved in decorating, furnishing and sharing child care responsibilities. In fact 45% of the husbands-to-be have influence on the couple's dinnerware patterns whereas only 5% of the mothers do.

The bridal registry is an integral part of the Generation X bride's experience. A huge 95% reported they did or will register. Not surprisingly, brides that do not use registries in this group have been shown to be demographically the least desirable group. They tend to have low incomes and will use money to pay for something they need as compared to what they want.  

What brides are registering for is shifting. There is a slight trend down for fine china and crystal.   Casual dinnerware and stainless flatware is holding market share. Brides are registering for non-tabletop items. It is interesting to note that while brides may be registering for non-traditional items, it is not replacing tableware, but adding to the registry.  

Brides will spend $1.65 billion on tableware. To acquire this, most are registering in more stores and a broader range of stores for a broader range of products. One reason brides are registering for less fine china than before is they felt they wouldn't be using it enough. The key to increasing registry of fine china, silver and crystal is not promoting daily or multiple use but rather, to use it in casual entertaining.

This group has the highest expectation for entertaining after marriage with 92% responding they will have friends over for dinner, not just snacks and drinks. Close to 40% told us they prefer to choose the pieces for their place settings, rather than be confined to the traditional five-pieces. This opens up a big opportunity to broaden the market.  

The top reasons brides registered their preferences were: convenient location for guests and the bride, a wide selection of merchandise and quality. When they shop, they tend to want to be left by themselves but have knowledgeable sales staff available. Department stores are getting new customers through the registry. Specialty stores are in their infancy in developing them. Convenience, breadth of merchandise and nationwide retail connections are more important to brides than price or incentives."

(above comments excerpted from an address to the Tabletop Market by Nina Lawrence, Conde Nast Bridal Group Publishing Director, Fall 1997)