The Why #33: Why do people spend so much on wedding invitations?

By Dan Monheit, 26.11.21

Question submitted by Rob, Chippendale

If Covid has taught us one important lesson, it’s that nothing in life is more effective than an Outlook calendar invitation. With the tap of a button, anyone can summon dozens of people, who they may or may not know, to a Zoom/Teams/WebEx meeting that is all but guaranteed to be a boring, frustrating waste of time. This ‘Outlook trick’ can be used at any time of the day or night and doesn’t even require the sender to include an agenda or incentive for people to diligently show up within a minute of the prescribed time.

How much more effective, therefore, would an Outlook wedding invitation be? Not only would it present all of the critical information in a convenient, predefined format, but the happy couple could include handy links to their gift registry, the venue on Google maps and manage the entire RSVP process from within the invitation itself!

It’s enough to make you wonder how opaque vellum paper and gold embossed envelopes are even a thing. Why, after overspending on the engagement ring, splurging on the dress and stumping up for the catering, would anyone bother wasting money on these overpriced, underappreciated, transient fridge adornments?

I’m glad you asked Rob, and you’re now cordially invited to read the rest of this ‘radiant’ newsletter, that’ll make it all make sense.

The Halo Effect

The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias that causes us to take an initial, positive impression of a person, product or brand and apply it broadly to encompass their entire being.

In 2013, Italian researcher Giovanni Busetta set out to determine whether attractiveness played a significant role in employment. Busetta and his team prepared and sent in more than 11,000 applications for 1,542 jobs that were being advertised across Italy.

Within these applications, factors that should influence whether someone got an interview, including education and experience, were held constant. At the same time, factors that should not influence someone’s chances, including their name, gender and an accompanying photograph, were varied.

In sifting through the call back rates, the research team concluded that job hunting might as well be a beauty pageant. While the average call back rate was 30% for all resumes, attractive women got invited for an interview at almost double that rate (54%), while attractive men got called back 47% of the time.

Could it be that beautiful people are just better at their jobs than us mere ‘solid 6s’? Unless said job is modelling, the answer is probably no.

Instead, what’s at play here is the power of first impressions. Hand drawn calligraphy, like a perfectly coiffed do, has a way of conveying class that Outlook will never quite capture. An invitation’s subtle matt finish and extra thick stock let recipients know, in no uncertain terms, that this wedding will be a luxurious (read: expensive), once in a lifetime event. It doesn’t hurt that it also reminds guests to bring a gift to match.

For brands, knowing that you’ll be weighed, judged, and measured based on first impressions, emphasises the need for ‘Northstar’, halo projects. These initiatives, which may not stack up from a short term ROI perspective, are critically important for showing customers, staff and the world at large, just what your brand is all about (in vivid full-colour of course). If done right, the shine from a great halo project can extend all the way down to the bottom of your product range, sending sales and profit margins skyward.

Behaviourally Yours,

Dan Monheit

PS If you missed the last edition, you can still check out why everyone keep asking Dan questions here.

Bad Decision Podcast
Learn more about the Halo Effect on episode 25 of the Bad Decisions podcast.

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