The wedding-registry portal is floating a Web site to engage the freshly married in discussion groups, blogs, advice columns, recipes and information on how to cope with the issues and challenges in starting a new life together. Called TheNest.com, the site will eventually tap merchants selling housewares, appliances, mortgages, cars and anything else a couple needs. A soft launch rolled out last October, with a formal debut slated for September.
TheKnot.com, with its combination of products, advice and chat, has perfected the notion of building a relationship with the bride, and TheNest.com will mirror that format. TheKnot's average user visits the site nine times a month for 20 minutes a session and 2.1 million unique visitors stop in.
"Over time, we saw a large number of brides come back to answer questions and help other brides," said David Liu, CEO, The Knot. "The natural progression of the conversation led to a community developing at the site. Given that their interests shift after the wedding, we wanted to find a way to serve that."
The opportunity is huge and largely untapped online. Some 2.3 million marriage licenses are issued each year. The wedding industry generates about $70 billion annually. No one has quantified the post-marriage potential to be gained from couples setting out to buy their first home, purchase a new car and plan for a baby. But on home purchases alone, they are spending $200 billion a year, according to Mr. Liu.
Still, reaching nesters in a format completely devoted to them is untested, though trying to keep the relationship going with the bride is not. Major department stores, like Bloomingdale's, have long reached out to newlyweds with 10%-off coupons to collect wedding registry items their guests didn't give them. Amazon.com-which just relaunched its wedding site-would also be a natural draw for newly marrieds who wanted to shop online given its thousands of merchants and well-known brand name. Plus, newlyweds are targeted at least tangentially by a number of home, style and fashion magazines.
Patty Freeman Evans, analyst at online-market-research firm Jupiter, said any online registry's relationship with the bride "is a short-term, intense engagement. After that, the emotional attachment to the stage you're in changes-it gets much more diffuse. That doesn't mean TheNest doesn't have a good market out there, it just means they don't have a captured market."
Mr. Liu believes he has an edge in reaching his registry customers as soon as they enter their new life because he not only knows their name, address, e-mail and roster of purchases, but the most valuable piece of data-their wedding date. "Because we harvest the wedding date from our memberships, we can now introduce the element of time," he said.
As soon as TheKnot's members are married, they are transferred automatically to TheNest. (TheKnot has 1 million active members.) When they return from their honeymoons, the site can send them an e-mail asking what they are interested in, serve up surveys or questionnaires to determine their needs, and then customize offers to them. "If you indicate your interest [like a home listing in a certain city] and I e-mail you with targeted information, there will be an open rate of 100%," Mr. Liu said.
Like TheKnot, the new colorful site seeks to engage visitors with interactive features on topics that internal surveys report new couples are interested in: money, in-laws, entertaining, sex and managing the marriage. Blogs and message boards can be accessed with registration. Photo-illustrated profiles of "real couples," recipes and articles on things like "Babies: Why the Rush?" make up content. Product categories have links that click-through to product photos and ad copy that pops up and reads like advertorial.
The handful of current advertisers include Polaroid, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Precision Set Jewelry. Some of TheKnot's advertisers would work well on TheNest.com, but Mr. Liu pointed out that with the post-wedding life stage he can penetrate categories that don't apply to weddings, like financial services for shared bank accounts, mortgages and other loans; pharmaceuticals; automotive; furniture and appliances; and home-renovation vendors like hardware stores and contractors. Banner ads on TheKnot have a click-through rate of up to 15%, vs. the average banner click-through rate across the Web of one-tenth of 1%. Also, like its predecessor, TheNest.com will offer a paid directory of local vendors, too, and promotions can be sliced and diced to geographic areas.
TheKnot.com's members are affluent, with an annual household income of over $60,000, with no kids and 80% of them have higher education. Some 85% are women.
The company plans to start a magazine related to TheNest.com also, but embracing a new life stage may be best done with a Web site, said Jupiter's Ms. Freeman Evans. "The Web allows you to find niche players that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to find and target content to a niche that they feel is underserved," she said.