Understanding Consumer Expectations in 2023
By Randi Bushell, Merri
The wedding and event industry has changed vastly over the past few decades. As a result, we’re seeing plenty of unique spins on classic traditions as couples look for new ways to make their celebration stand out. And with the wedding boom continuing in 2023, there are a handful of things you’ll want to know about consumer expectations this year.
Today, more and more couples are part of Gen Z, a generation that isn’t afraid to do things in their own way. So to keep up with the evolving trends, it’s essential to shift your focus to the needs of consumers and prioritize what they’re looking for. Follow these tips to better understand—and meet—consumer expectations in 2023.
Understand the different generations
Though some traditions stand the test of time, working with a Millennial couple will be different from working with a Gen Z couple. Each generation brings its own societal context to its events, and it’s essential to understand their nuances so you can provide them with the best experience.
With more Gen Z weddings this year, your team should adapt its processes to accommodate their needs. Many Gen Z couples are self-reliant and aren’t afraid to handle things independently. So when it comes to their event, prepare for more hands-on clients who expect reliable communication and collaboration.
Though new event clients value independence, they still appreciate collaboration. As industry professionals, this means providing clients with the tools and information they need to make progress on their own. For example, photographers can provide templates for clients to work off of, such as shot lists to communicate what they’re looking for. They’ll feel confident that you can provide them with the images they want while feeling involved and checking something off their planning list. That’s the key – Gen Z wants defined tools and processes in addition to guidance.
Expect consumers to want to stay looped in on significant updates and be ready to provide your honest opinion when they ask for it. Focus on streamlining how you work with clients and how you share information so they feel more organized and are aware of upcoming milestones. This gives them a line of sight into what to expect and when. Implement client portals and dashboards with organized information and notifications, so they can access important details while still feeling like you’re doing things on their terms. It should feel personalized to their event, but it’s actually automated on the backend based on your pre-determined processes.
Reduce response times
With 82% of consumers expecting a response within 10 minutes, it’s more important than ever for you to meet these timely expectations. Look to customer relationship management (CRM) software to help you send immediate responses when a lead reaches out. As a result, they’ll be impressed by your communication and can prepare for the next steps provided in your message.
Automation is critical this year, so don’t be afraid to test new tools and systems to increase efficiency. Younger generations can access the information they need within seconds, so you’ll want to tailor your customer experience to meet them where they’re at. Whether that’s text messages instead of Zoom calls and emails or updating your onboarding workflow, reducing response times is an excellent way to make a good first impression.
Break the status quo
Gen Z, in particular, craves a unique sense of self. It’s why creator apps like TikTok are so popular — they allow users to share their own experiences. People aren’t doing things simply because their neighbors are; instead, they want to stand out and generate positive conversation.
So as you move forward with your weddings and events in 2023, don’t be afraid to break the status quo. Think outside of the box and stay on top of the latest trends. This means breaking away from using existing Pinterest or Instagram content as inspiration and, instead, creating truly unique sources of inspiration and design decks for each client. They don’t want to do something that’s been done time and time again; they want you to create something bespoke for them.
Step up your tech
More than just using the right CRM tool, you’ll want to revamp each piece of your technology to keep up with consumer expectations in 2023. Tools like ChatGPT have taken the world by storm and are what younger generations have grown up on. Today, people have everything they need within their pocket-sized devices and want to work with someone who can communicate with them properly.
For instance, there’s a good chance your younger couples aren’t huge fans of talking on the phone. However, they might love using an app like Voxer, where you can send voice messages back and forth. Look at the systems you’re currently using and consider how you can improve them for your current and future clientele.
Be as transparent as possible
Tensions can run high when either side of a partnership doesn’t understand their role. Providing as much information as possible is vital to ensure all parties understand their responsibilities. To meet consumer expectations in 2023, you must tell people exactly what they can expect and when they can expect it.
Setting boundaries and communicating timelines from the get-go will allow you to build trust with clients, so they know when they’ll hear from you and what you need from them. This provides them with a sense of control. While event pros know a lot of the work happens in the few months before a celebration, clients often don’t understand the timeline. So if they book a year out, let them know when the bulk of your work will take place and why, allowing them to rest easy!
Provide a sense of instant gratification
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as instantly booking a venue, caterer, or photographer. But today, people have become accustomed to instant gratification — they know what they want, and they don’t want to wait for it. So consider how you can provide some gratification for each lead.
This might mean providing a detailed welcome packet, client dashboard, or special portal. Offering systems like these from the beginning ensures your prospects feel involved and heard.
While consumer expectations will continue to change as the years go on, event professionals can stay up-to-date by tuning into the latest trends and adapting accordingly. So gather feedback, switch up your processes, and know that when you listen to your audience, you can create an experience they’ll love!
Randi Bushell is the Founder & CEO of Merri, a 3D visualization platform for the events industry – bringing venues, planners, and vendors onto a single platform to design and execute best-in-class events. Prior to starting Merri, she spent her early career in Ecommerce at Macys.com, Jet.com, and Walmart.com. While planning her wedding in 2018 she struggled to make design decisions without adequate tooling to visualize the event, which acted as the catalyst for starting Merri, and has now grown to be one of the fastest growing platforms in the industry.