irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an
occasional guest columnist.
Listening to Consumers
Demographic studies and message boards aren't
by Trish Hansen (December 3, 2007)
Before I go any further (in my not so humble opinion!), if
scrapbooking were only about preserving photographic memories, there
would be no need for funky embellishments and beautiful papers; weíd
be sticking pix in photo albums with a note next to the pic. There
would be no scrapbooking industry and we wouldnít be having this
discussion. For every scrapbooker I know, scrapbooking, like every
other craft, is about creative expression and personal fulfillment.
So often people, women in particular, feel that they have to
justify any time spent doing anything that they love. One of the
things I always liked about scrapbooking was that women could be
creative, spend time on and for themselves, while doing something
wonderful for their family as well.
We are all looking for validation; itís a basic emotional need.
So yes, Iím sure that for many scrapbookers, the craft gives them
a certain amount of validation. Itís important to feel good about
yourself. As an instructor, Iíve always felt that crafters should
be hearing "WOW! Look what you did!" from us, regardless of
whether or not they have contest-winning talent.
For those who do enter contests, submit to be published or
participate in design teams, we should be treating them fairly, with
respect and in the case of design teams, they should be adequately
compensated. When we have repeatedly failed to do so, how is it that
we can be surprised by this outpouring of resentment?
You asked if scrapbookers are "crazy." Iíd say not
more or less than any other creative group. Anything done to express
oneself creatively is very personal. When people feel that they are
personally attacked, they tend to strike back.
Iíve never been certain how or why, for so many, scrapbooking
became a world of celebrity, contentious competition, and ego, or
why the industry as a whole bought into it. Wouldnít it be better
if we made it less about us (the industry) and more about them (the
Message boards represent a narrow group of our customers.
Truthfully, the majority of scrapbook enthusiasts are out there
scrapping and could care less about any of this. Of course, more and
more of them are gravitating to beading, fiber arts, and quilting.
Why? Because crafters like to craft and creative people like to
expand their horizons, and because our market has matured and
because even those folks who pay no mind to the blogs and industry
hype are feeling the negative effects.
While there is the temptation to pass all the hoopla off as
coming from a few malcontents, which is largely a true statement, I
know from past experience what a huge mistake that can be. As an
industry professional it concerns me that we are, apparently,
failing to understand our customers.
How we market to and interact with our consumers has changed
dramatically in recent years. Demographic studies and Internet
message boards are great tools, but they donít take the place of
face time with our consumers. Because crafting is about creativity
and self expression, it canít be pigeonholed into tidy groups
Once again, it seems that we would profit greatly by paying a lot
more attention to the retailers and store-based instructors who see
these people every day and who sit around the crop tables kibitzing
with them. Whatever face we want to put on it, at the end of the day
we need to be making sales. In our declining market, if we continue
to alienate our consumers we just may find ourselves selling used
cars or burial plots.
(Note: To read previous comments on the subject by
industry professionals, click on "Are Some Scrapbookers
'Crazy'?" in the rightĖhand column. To read a thoughtful
consumer's view, click on Memory,
Paper & Stamps in the left-hand column. To add your thoughts
to the conversation, email CLN at email@example.com.)