The Knot Prepares to Go Global

The Knot is launching ventures in France and Brazil this month and next as the wedding Web site takes the first steps in going global.

The U.S. company has a venture in France with GBH, the largest wedding media company in Europe, and will launch the site in July. In Brazil it has partnered with J. Stern, an international luxury retailer, with the Web site going live June 12.

“The French approached us because they realized they didn’t have a presence on the Web and saw the importance of being there,” said Jessica Kleiman, The Knot’s public relations director.

“They’d been monitoring what we do and thought we would be a good partner for them. For our part, we’ve been thinking about going international for the last six months.”

Kleiman explained that The Knot launched in 1996 and spent years building database technology and collecting pertinent information on weddings that range from location of receptions to putting a registry online.

“It would take a lot of resources to do that from scratch, so in essence, we are leveraging our technology in those relationships and getting our brand exposed worldwide,” he said.

“It’s really important for us to expand. Weddings are hot in the U.S. and becoming hot elsewhere too.

“We get a million visitors a month and have 750,000 couples as members, and since there are only 2.5 million or so weddings a year in the U.S., we have a good slice of the wedding market. And that attracted our partners, too.”

GBH brings sizable assets to the venture as well, and they are not limited to France. It publishes three consumer wedding magazines, one each in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The company also publishes a wedding trade magazine in five languages which is distributed in 10 European countries. In addition, GBH manages two annual wedding shows in Paris.

It will use the magazines and the shows to promote the new alliance and the Web site that is at its core.

The site will be in French with GBH editors handling translation and adaptation. “A lot of our content is universal and will not need to be adapted,” Kleiman said.

“Of course, there are cultural nuances. They’ll have their staff research to take into account things that are done differently in France than in the U.S. in terms of local customs, etc.”

She noted that people spend a lot of money on weddings all over the world and that the European market is about the same size as in the United States — about 2 million weddings a year. “So the market is there.”

Over the next 12 months, The Knot will explore the possibility of rolling out Web sites in other European countries — in the United Kingdom for sure, and they are looking at Germany and Italy as well.

“Once we roll out, we will have offices on the ground in Europe, starting with Paris and then opening up in other markets, and we will have international people in our New York offices,” he said. “We won’t be doing advertising sales from here because each country will handle its own e-commerce.”

In Brazil, J. Stern is one of the largest producers of color gems and diamonds, and its stores are akin to Tiffany. Stern has a flagship outlet in Manhattan, but its focus is on Latin America where most of its stores are located.

“They have a home store in Rio de Janeiro, where they are based, which carries china, crystal and flatware, and we will be providing our Web site registry from that store.”

The site is called “o grande dia” — the big day — and is a 50-50 venture with The Knot.

In Brazil, Kleiman said, engagement rings are not given or worn. Instead, the wedding band is on the left hand before the wedding and is placed on the right hand once the marriage ceremony is over, “so diamonds are not a huge market for weddings down there.”

The company does not reveal how much it expects the ventures to earn, but Kleiman said The Knot would like to take both of them public eventually.

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