What we can learn from the CHA study
The 2009 Attitude & Usage (A&U) Study surveyed approximately 6,000 households to see how many craft projects they did during the year. Although there was an estimated $27. 4 billion spent on crafting (supplies, classes, etc.), the study found that the percentage of participating households has remained at a steady 56% — the same as in the previous three years, in fact. In 2008, sales were $27.3 billion, so that’s not exactly a huge gain. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for it not being a loss.
“The A&U Study tracks trends in four broad categories comprised of General Crafts, Needle & Sewing Crafts, Painting & Finishing Crafts, and Floral Crafts,” the release explains. “During 2009, the General Crafts category represented 44% of industry sales and was +18% over the prior year. Strong category performance was driven by growth in the Woodworking, Cake Decorating, and Jewelry Making segments.”
While the other three categories saw declining sales overall, there were some segments within that did well: “Home Decor Painting/Accessorizing/Finishing, Knitting, and Wedding/Bridal crafts all grew in 2009.”
The study ranked the Top 10 segments, based on sales and participation, and it’s little surprise that scrapbooking remains No. 1. While many of us have all the paper, stamps and stickers we could ever hope to complete albums with to last a couple lifetimes, it seemed that handmade gifts from the heart — like a special memory box for grandma at Christmas, for example — were popular. (For the record, cardmaking is broken out from the scrapbooking category and is ranked at No. 7.)
Because we are taking more “staycations,” it also makes sense that home decor comes in at No. 2. If we’re stuck at home, we might as well spruce it up, right?
I suggest needlepoint businesses in particular take note of what came in after No. 3-ranked woodworking: cake decorating and art/drawing at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
Whether you’re talking color, clean lines or overall artistry, there are definite parallels to cake design and needlepoint design. In fact, Medina’s own Sandy Rodgers was a very well respected cake designer before she turned her considerable talents loose on the more permanent medium of fabric — check out her gorgeous work on her “Life Before Embroidery” page here. (And if you’re not familiar with her current needlework, for shame! Click here!)
If your local bakery is offering cake-decorating classes, for example, see whether there’s some synergy to be had with their students. Offer to promote their teaching schedule in your shop if they do the same for yours, with flyers touting something to the effect of “Got cake? Get canvas!” Or perhaps co-sponsor a seminar on color choices.
Similar opportunities may lie with the local community center’s introduction to drawing and painting classes. Offer to be a guest speaker and show in what ways painting on a canvas to be stitched can be similar to and different from just regularly listening to your muse.
I’m actually surprised that jewelry-making came in at No. 6, because it seems so popular with crafters of all ages — and especially working moms. Projects you can do with a glass of wine on your right and a good conversationalist on your left, and still get something beautiful completed in less than three hours, are few and far between. Still, traditional shops take note: Once consumers get the “bead bug,” so to speak, they’re looking to embellish everything they can. Do you have beads on display that can complement certain projects? Selected packets of beads to add sparkle to that shawl they’re currently working on? Quick kits to work up a beaded key fob to go with that new felted purse? Tiny needlepoint frames that can go on a chain and let them show off their work like their Victorian counterparts once did?
Perhaps most important to note is what the study found to be the main motivators for crafting. At No. 1 was a sense of accomplishment. Think about that: Are you letting your customers know that you’re proud of their work? You, the expert, are seeing them transform from novice to skilled artisan with each project they complete? Are you giving encouragement to students who are looking at a mistake or a daunting task, and showing them just how much they have achieved already? When they ask for your input on choosing a project, are you considering how much they can challenge themselves without getting in over their heads?
That final point is important because of Motivator No. 2, relaxation!
I encourage you to read over all the survey’s results, and see how they apply to how you’re currently doing business. The release has a lot of info on its own, but CHA makes a full review of their results available for purchase.
I’d love to keep the conversation going, so please share your questions and insights in the comments section below, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.