Costco is on my mind as I finalize my list for the monthly bulk supply run. On the list are staples like diapers, Pull Ups, gallons of organic milk, kiddie treats, garbage bags, cleaning supplies and more.
With unusual timing, I just received an email from Costco (I'm on the mailing list) with the subject: "Weddings by Costco. Find out how Costco can help with your special day!" No joke, Costco's member magazine even has a cover story entitled "From shopping aisle to wedding aisle."
I'm not a good prospect for wedding-related marketing. I've been happily married for over a decade, and my toddlers are at least fifteen years from legally tying the knot. However, I'm intrigued at how Costco continues its expansion into major life stage transitions.
I think that's a good thing because those transitions are typically dominated by surges in consumer spending with overzealous marketers eager to milk every penny they can. There's absolutely nothing wrong with offering products and services that meet demand around life-changing events. Though significant life changes usually come with stress and financial challenges, and that makes people vulnerable to aggressive industry marketing tactics. Costco counters that with its commitment to members, and strategy of group buying.
Consider births and the overwhelming amount of stuff you have to acquire — not only diapers and clothes, but expanded medical coverage, larger cars, car seats, cribs, childcare and more. These purchases can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars (or much more) within a few months. It's easy to overspend when instantly faced with the overwhelming requirement to accomodate a newborn, for whom you want to spare no expense.
Consider death and the rapid spending and financial decisions that pair family members, experiencing extreme duress, with aggressive salespeople offering end-of-life services. Do you want the $2,000 standard casket for your spouse, or go out in style and comfort with the $15,000 limousine casket? (Indeed, Costco does sell caskets, and they are strategically displayed near the checkout aisle.) What about flower arrangements for the funeral service? Catering? Travel arrangements?
Of course, weddings are similar. Industry sales and marketing people prey, especially, upon a bride's dream of living out what she considers to be the most important day of her life. Bridal dresses, wedding cakes, catering halls, limousines and more — and don't forget the diamond engagement ring and wedding bands. I've always found that the quality of a wedding has little to do with price, and everything to do with intent, organization the love among uniting families and friends.
Which is why I'm glad to see Costco now get into weddings.
From cradle to casket, including every step in between.