The trends, the issues, and productive business
Increasing the Size of the Pie
Attracting newcomers by creating an identity.
By Lisa Kanak, The Cropper's Coprner (April 4, 2005)
People are saying that the scrapbook industry is
"mature," that we’ve grown as much as we can, and now
the battle ahead is to simply stay in business. I’m going on
record to say that I don’t think this is true. If the scrapbook
industry was truly mature, the average Joe on the street would know
what scrapbooking is and why people would be interested in this
The fact is, the average Joe does not have a clue what
scrapbooking is. Walk down the street, and ask people to
"define" scrapbooking; what responses do you get? Here in
Virginia you get everything from a "Huh? Never heard of
it," to "Oh, isn’t that where people spend hours and
hours puing a couple of pictures on a page with a bunch of
Our industry has an identity problem: people don’t know what
scrapbooking is. They don’t know why they would ever want or need
a scrapbook. And our industry needs to step up to the plate and tell
Until now, everything we have talked about has essentially
revolved around making the current "pie" more profitable.
As a retailer, I do wish that just some tweaking with purchasing,
better inventory management, and current advertising by
manufacturers would solve all of the industry’s problems.
Unfortunately, that’s simply not true.
Every industry is fighting for our customer’s attention.
Customers are being told they "need" this, or they
"should have" that. How long have digital cameras been
available? More than 10 years, yet they didn’t start becoming
widely accepted until the last few years.
Kodak, Sony, and Canon have had to campaign long and hard to
first convince people that digital cameras were easy to use. Next,
they had to convince people that they should switch from film to
digital; and now the pressure is on to educate consumers to print
their own photos, too.
These companies have developed excellent educational
advertisements that make digital photography seem easy, fun, and
more convenient than standard film cameras. Digital photography is
becoming the standard format because the manufacturers created the
market by creating an identity for digital photography.
The identity of the scrapbook industry is vague. Most people do
not have a clear concept as to what the hobby is – or what it
could be. Instead of developing an industry message that the public
could identify with, we have relied mostly on word-of-mouth.
At first, this form of "advertising" is great, because
it’s cheap and easy. Unfortunately, like the old game
"telephone" – the message and meaning often gets lost. I
believe this "lack of identity" is what is now holding our
industry back from its second and greatest potential growth spurt.
If the scrapbook industry is going to survive, and more
importantly, thrive, we must increase the size of the pie. This
requires increasing repeat business, and finding new customers.
A plethora of articles have been written on how retailers can
keep current customers happy. Suggestions have been made as to how
we can inspire them to purchase more, or purchase greater numbers of
things. Yet comparatively little has been shared with retailers
about how we can find those new customers.
Finding new customers is the most expensive type of advertising
– even more so when the identity of a "scrapbook store"
is not something the majority of people grasp. Yet this
responsibility falls almost exclusively to the local independent
retailer. The lone retailer’s advertising budget is fairly small
– and the larger the potential audience the more expensive the
Comparatively, a manufacturers’ advertising budget is fairly
substantial. Yet the lion’s share of most manufacturers’ advertising budget is
being spent in the attempt to convince current consumers now
purchasing product A to purchase product B.
Happily, there are a couple of ways manufacturers and retailers
can share this burden. The easiest, by far, is for manufacturers to
offer retailers co-op advertising dollars.
Essentially, co-op advertising rewards retailers who achieve a
certain level of purchasing by returning a percentage of their
accumulated purchases to be used in joint advertising campaigns.
These joint efforts enable the manufacturer to help direct consumers
to the stores that are carrying their products – which means the
local scrapbook store gets more business, turns more products, and
becomes more profitable.
Co-op advertising is used successfully in many industries, and
would greatly help retailers reach their local market. The only
potential downside is that co-op advertising still relies (in part)
on people already having an idea that scrapbooking is something they
are interested in. More people will definitely know that the store
exists – but not many more will understand why the store
Our industry needs to grow beyond the single manufacturer and the
lone retailer to create an image for our industry tailor-made for
each major demographic (Baby Boomers, Millenials, Generation Xers,
Yers, Seniors); if we unite, we will have a much greater and lasting
impact. This is not a new concept. It’s been used successfully for
years. Here are some very popular and successful industry campaigns:
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner ... Got Milk? ... Pork, the
Other White Meat ... The Incredible, Edible Egg.
Each of these campaigns was started because sales of the food
category were suffering due to scientific studies proclaiming these
to be "bad" foods responsible for heart attacks, strokes
– even cancer. These campaigns helped to not only change the
public’s perception of the foods – they allowed the industries
to rebound, and in some cases grow.
These campaigns have one additional factor in common – they
were industry focused instead of being brand focused. The
manufacturers and retailers all knew that they had to address one
major problem – the consumer’s perception of their product –
in order to increase sales. If the industry couldn’t change its
identity in the minds of the public, it wouldn’t matter if the
label on the product read "Pet" or "Safeway" –
it was all the same to them.
I realize that the scrapbook industry is not beef, pork, milk, or
eggs – but we do have something in common with these industries.
We share the same identity problem. Consumers do not know what
scapbooking is the same way they "know" what knitting,
needlepoint, puzzles, games, cars, or golf is.
We must educate consumers about the need for our products and
services. We must address – as an industry – their
misconceptions and pre-conceived notions about photo storage,
scrapbooks, and crop events. We must invite them to get acquainted
with our industry as a whole – and make them want to join our
There are many different avenues for a joint educational and
promotional campaign including DirectTV, magazine bind-ins,
newspaper blow-ins, direct mail offers, bulk coupon offers.
Even better, we can use these vehicles and target our message to
address the specific needs or goals of each segment of the
population. We can target men differently from women, teens
differently from seniors – we can give each consumer market their
own reason to scrapbook.
This type of campaign is not easy – and would be impossible if
it were undertaken by the single manufacturer or lone retailer.
However, by joining together to create a unified message and
identity for our industry, we can overcome our biggest obstacle to
growth – our identity.
The best part is that we already have this message. It’s in the
stories our customers tell us. It’s the widowed mother who wants
to make an album about the husband she lost in the war – so that
her children will be able to know him. It’s the grandmother
creating a simple album so that her grandchildren will have a better
understanding of what life was like when she grew up. It’s the
genealogist who wants to put all of the information and photos they’ve
gathered into a more organized and visual format so that more family
members can learn about their heritage. It’s the child who loves
to create pages about the things that are most important to them.
Scrapbooking can be simple or complicated. It can be done for a
one-time gift, or become a part of everyone’s life. But the
average Joe doesn’t understand this – and he should.
We must present our message with one voice. We must speak from
the heart in a tangible, visible way. And we should do this now.
The best part is that direct marketing is less expensive than you
might think – even DirectTV. It can be tested in regional mass
markets or in small local markets. We can track results, and the
results can be known overnight.
If non-profit (and even for-profit) groups such as Ducks
Unlimited, Feed the Children, Coral Ridge Ministries, and many, many
others can use these methods successfully, so can we – but we have
to work together.
I am excited about the potential for an industry-wide campaign
– one that will create an identity for the industry while
providing an offer and a mechanism for funneling new customers into
local and/or on-line stores.
The question now is what will we – as an industry – do?
We know that the industry has an identity problem. We know that
neither the single manufacturer nor the lone retailer can solve this
problem by themselves. Partner groups such as Crafter’s Home or
The Smart Group could easily lead this charge – but in the end,
the decision rests with each of us. The choice is ours. We can do
the same things we’ve been doing – and get the same results –
or we can try something different.
(Note. The Cropper's Corner is at 1621 Carl D. Silver
Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. To contact Lisa, call her home
office at 540-752-1935 or email email@example.com.)
Comments from Mike Hartnett
1. What Lisa is recommending is exactly what the acrylic yarn
companies did by forming the Craft Yarn Council of America. When
CYCA was formed a few years ago, knitting and crochet were almost
dead, kept alive by our grandmothers making afghans.
Make no mistake. Today yarn is hotter than scrapbooking, all due
to CYCA's publicity and promotion efforts, and the industry
introducing new yarns and projects that appealed to a younger
Wouldn't it be nice if the scrapbook industry formed its own
version of the CYCA NOW, and didn't wait until the category fades?
2. As I understand it, the ad campaigns Lisa referred to
(milk, beef, etc.) are helped along by federal legislation regarding
agricultural products. I believe businesses who participate in those
campaigns get some sort of tax write-off.
3. The Craft & Hobby Assn. is testing a billboard
campaign in four cities to promote "Crafts. Discover Life's
Little Pleasures." If the program raises awareness in crafts,
it will be rolled out, according to CHA's budget, to other cities.
But because of the nature of CHA (a trade association for a wide
variety of craft categories), CHA can't focus all its resources on
promoting any one particular category.
So if scrapbook companies want to promote scrapbooking, they'll
have to join forces and work together.
(Note. In CLN's next issue, Lisa will write about
merchandising strategies. To read previous entries in the Memory,
Paper and Stamp section, click on the headlines in the right-hand