Jun 24, 2013
Keys to Quinceañeras
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Make sure they come to your store when they’re coming of age

As evidenced by the attention paid to Sweet 16 and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, the transition from childhood to womanhood is a significant passage for adolescent girls in almost all cultures. This is especially true in Mexican heritage where it’s marked with the celebration of the Quinceanera, or 15th birthday.

Because this celebration can occur any day around the calendar, this is a great retail opportunity for party stores, and the significance of the event means that shoppers are willing to spend money to make it memorable.

Teen Theme

At Henry’s Party Supply in Harlingen, Texas, about 15 percent of its business is generated by Quinceaneras and includes balloons, solids (table covers, cups, napkins etc), napkin imprinting, rentals, themed decor and partnerships with local party planners, bakeries and caterers.

Owner Henry Garza Jr. said the color scheme is generally dependent on the celebrant’s favorite colors and then a theme is created around it.

“We’ve seen a rise in florescent colors often integrated with animal prints, but shades of pink and purple continue to be the most popular,” Garza said. “Mardi Gras, Hollywood and Western have been consistent choices for Quinceanera themes, with stars, butterflies and diamonds recently becoming more popular.”

Hilda Gabriela, senior editor of Quinceanera.com, agreed that modern day Quince girls are looking for bold, vibrant color schemes. Themes that support that color palette are Brazilian carnival, masquerade and rave. Their focus is not so much on icons, but more on creating overall environments for their guests.

“Quince girls are finding ways to make their celebration their own,” Gabriela said. “Just as they personalize their cell phones with unique cases or bling, they are also finding ways to make their celebration a mirror representation of their unique lifestyle.”

For example, the traditional cake topper for a Quince cake used to be a doll, which was kept as memento or keepsake. Now, girls are using feathers, monograms or picture frames to decorate the top of the cake. All of these can be saved post party for years to come.

Garza said that in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the majority of items (tiara, guest book, bouquet, religious candle, etc.) all are included as a package when the celebrant selects her dress. As a result, the focus in his store is on the most traditional items that are served at Quinceaneras, regardless of budget or guest count. This includes champagne cups and sparkling white grape juice given to the court for the opening toast, concentrated punch, pastel mints, Spanish peanuts and imprinted napkins that are all served with the cake.

“Our store merchandizes all of our top sellers together, not only for customer convenience, but also to remind them of what they may need,” Garza said. “We also have “Quinceanera Must Have” fliers that have bullet points of items that are necessary for the event.”

Although many of the items needed for a Quinceanera celebration resemble bridal items, Gabriela said retailers need to market their products specifically to Quinceaneras. For example, a vendor should not approach a family planning a Quince with a wedding album and try to sell them the idea of what their album can look like.

“I’ve seen this done many times before and it’s very unattractive and gives no results,” Gabriela said. “Real examples of Quinceanera products are more appealing to these consumers.”

It’s Personal

When it comes to coordinating decor items like tableware and party favors, Gabriela suggested the best party favors are those that serve another purpose other than just being the party’s keepsake. Ear buds, CDs, jars of candy and USB drives are some of the most popular favors right now. Most of those items can be bought in bulk, so if retailers offer these and provide customization in labeling, they will appeal to the new generation of Quinceaneras.

Shannon Wolfe of Paper So Pretty agreed that personalization is key.

“Tableware should complement the theme without over-powering, and personalized napkins are very big,” Wolfe said. “Personalized favor bags are also big, and we see the girls wanting to add their name and photo to their take-away bags. Many often offer personalized candy or candles as their take home gift as well.

Garza has found that almost all Quinceanera celebrants take professional portraits of themselves in their dress and color scheme before their event, and that personalized invitations are included in the overall package done by the photographer.

“In our partnership with photographers we offer clear sleeves for the invitations to be put in and they range in dimensions,” he said. “Often corresponding themed confetti is put in the invitation for added color, so we offer that as well.”

If a Quinceanera is not decorated by the venue, they suggest using as much color on the tabletop as possible and giving out beads, glow necklaces, bracelets and blinking rings to guests as they are dancing as part of entertainment and as favors.

When dealing with parents and children, it’s important to know who to market your service to. To appeal to the parents, Gabriela said retailers must have flexible payment plans and reasonably market their services/products.

“Most parents are comfortable with paying for lavish up-sells, so long as they are being up-sold from the current market price and not from an exaggerated cost,” she said. “To appeal to the celebrant, they must offer their services/products in a wide range of colors/patterns and be willing to customize to their client’s needs.”

“In our region, the celebrant’s parents often select ‘Padrinos,’ family or friends that are sponsors to portions of the Quinceanera such as the ‘regalo sopresa’ (surprise gift), cake, food, etc.,” Garza said. “Most often retailers try to appeal to the parents, but it is the celebrant that ultimately makes most of the decisions.

“We keep in mind that a Quinceanera is planned more than a year in advance and the young celebrant has plenty of time to decide exactly how her event should look,” he continued. “In our consultations, we often defer our questions to the birthday girl and build from there.”

With such importance placed on the event, anything retailers can do to personalize the experience will pay off for all in the end.

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