This article provided courtesy of Stitchcraft Marketing, a niche agency specializing in craft-centric small businesses. If you’d like more information about anything contained in this article, feel free to contact the owner of Stitchcraft Marketing, Leanne Pressly at Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com for more information.
Annual sales of $36 billion. It describes the amount of money spent annually in the US on the major categories of crafts and hobbies, according to the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update created by MaritzCX for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). Among American households, 62% participated in some kind of craft activity in the preceding twelve months and almost a third participated in one to three different activities within that year. It’s a big market whose consumers have discretionary income to spend on the materials and tools associated with their preferred crafts and hobbies. Successful marketing will incorporate appeals to the attitudes, emotions, and values they associate with their crafting. Here, we share some insights from the MaritzCX study to help you find the best approach to market to your customers.
The study defined eleven broad categories of crafts:
- Paper crafts
- Beads and jewelry
- Floral crafting
- Edible arts
- Wood crafts and home decor
- Knitting and crochet
- Needle arts
- Sewing and fabric
- Painting and drawing
- Kids’ crafts
Survey participants rated their emotions, values, and affinities about craft participation on a size-point scale from lowest to highest association over a range of keywords, which are highlighted in bold italics*. (Associated marketing concepts are also highlighted.) What emerged was a clear picture of positive associations that manufacturers and retailers can employ to market their products effectively to their intended audience. There’s enough consensus across the craft categories to make some general recommendations, but we will break out specific crafts when the differences are significant.
There’s no doubt crafting makes people feel good, but they give the highest associations to feeling relaxed and proud as they engage in their crafts. That means that crafting is an antidote to the other stresses in their lives, and they are willing to spend both time and money to access that sense of relaxation. In current terms, crafting is a form of self-care, not unlike a pedicure, a massage, or a new set of high thread-count sheets. Product marketing that appeals to a desire for accessible luxury also taps into the high association with relaxation.
The pride crafters feel in their work and the projects they produce suggests that they value the skills they have learned and the appearance and/or utility of their projects. The craft segment mostly highly associated with pride was painting and drawing; the sewing and fabric segment and the knitting and crochet segment gave it the second highest association assignment. Being proud to wear something a crafter has made puts fashion, style, and skill into the mix of positive associations for these craft categories.
We note, too, that the craft category of Edible Arts is an outlier in the survey of emotional associations. Participants in this craft associated it most highly with feeling joyful and excited. Coupling those emotions with food brings celebration to mind as a concept around which to appeal to crafters in this category.
Closely associated with the emotion of pride is the value of accomplishment, which received the highest or second-highest rating across 9 out of 11 craft categories. It’s clear that crafters value the end product of their efforts as well as the process of creating them. Crafting is not merely a pastime such as playing games or assembling jigsaw puzzles – rather, it’s an investment of mental and physical energy around an envisioned result. Crafters are makers, and making is a part of their self-identity. Whether they keep the things they make or give them to others, the association with accomplishment means that they intend their work to have a life beyond its completion. Heritage, memory, and legacy could be ways in which crafters think of their work in relationship to the rest of their lives.
Again, within the survey of values associations, the Edible Arts category stands out. According to participants, they strongly associate Edible Arts with warm relationships, as well as being fun and enjoyable. These are not surprising results, as they track closely with the emotional associations mentioned above. While crafters may engage in any of the craft categories on their own behalf, food, by both quantity and effort, is more likely to be shared or gifted and thus have an impact on relationships in a way the other craft categories do not. As for the fun and enjoyment aspect, eating the end result of a craft project might be more fun than wearing it or looking at it! So although Edible Arts as a craft category is directed toward appearance and presentation, deliciousness, flavor, and taste also matter to these crafters.
As we said earlier, crafting is a segment of the maker culture, and in this way creates a sense of cultural identity for its participants. By realizing that crafters, especially the millennials, see themselves as having as much in common with artisanal food producers (like beer or kombucha brewers) , the Maker Hacks community (such as those who share 3-D printers in their maker spaces), as well as traditional domestic arts, you can reach them by appealing to their affinity associations.
Across craft categories, survey respondents assigned the highest or second highest association rating to the idea that their craft makes them feel special. It is something they do that sets them apart from the general population and shows that they are people who are willing to value time and effort over convenience. Crafting is a way they express their individuality and creativity. It is also something that they strongly associate with missing if it were no longer a part of their lives. That missing has such a high association across craft categories suggest that an opportunity exists to reach out to crafters who used to (engage in a particular craft), reminding them of the enjoyment, fun, and relaxation crafting once brought to their lives. Remembering the pleasure of accomplishment and pride that one craft creates can provide a bridge to expanding a crafter’s repertoire.
Using the positive emotional, value, and affinity associations that crafters cite aligns your brand with the reasons they engage in crafts and need your products and materials. By incorporating these associations into your marketing campaigns such as blog posts, social media posts and e-newsletters you are more likely to reach those emotional touchpoints that are as strong as their practical needs.
*bolded words are directly from the survey or suggested marketing concepts to use in your marketing.
For more information about the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update and to obtain a copy, visit research.afci.global.