Challenges, problems, and triumphs
-- from a manufacturer's perspective.
What Happened to Creative Memories?
Not adjusting to the times.
by Nancy Nally (December 1, 2008)
(Note: For the latest on the Creative Memories bankruptcy,
read Nancy's reports at her Scrapbook Update site, www.scrapbookupdate.com.)
Creative Memories arguably founded the scrapbook industry as we
know it today. So how did the company end up in bankruptcy court
recently, filing for a Chapter 11 restructuring of their debt?
Certainly the general scrapbook industry downturn has played a
role in the company's problems. But other large companies in the
industry are continuing on and adjusting to the changing
marketplace. What's the difference between them and Creative
Memories? To put it simply, Creative Memories didn't adjust to the
changing consumer climate.
Unlike other scrapbook companies, which sell products intended
for consumers to use however they wish, Creative Memories operates
based on selling a philosophy. The Creative Memories philosophy is
very narrow and based on rigid adherence to archival principles and
simplicity in design.
When Creative Memories started to grow, the company faced little
competition. The company's philosophy that the CM way to scrap is
the only "right" way to scrap didn't face any competition
because it was essentially the only available way to scrap for a lot
When the interest the company created in scrapbooking led to the
creation of competition for itself, for awhile there was enough
business to go around for everyone. Scrapbooking was hot. Many
scrapbookers did opt for a broader definition of scrapbooking than
the Creative Memories philosophy allows. But the market was so huge
that there were still enough customers who bought into (literally)
the CM philosophy to keep the company growing.
The scrapbooking downturn changed things, however. When the
market leveled and then started to drop, there wasn't enough to go
around for everyone anymore. And Creative Memories' narrow
philosophy of scrapbooking started to backfire by severely limiting
its share of the shrinking scrapbook customer base.
As practiced by many consultants, the CM philosophy actually
declines to sell to some potential customers. A significant number
of consultants will not allow scrapbookers who use non-Creative
Memories products to attend their crops (which are actually sales
events, of course). Most experienced scrapbookers can tell a story
about their non-Creative Memories products and style being treated
as unsavory or contraband by a CM consultant.
A company cannot build a successful business in a difficult
market by limiting potential customers with how they use their
products, or by turning them away altogether. And yet that is what
many consultants actively do. Instead of welcoming scrapbookers who
use non-Creative Memories products and hoping to sell them some CM
products to use along with them, many consultants actually turn
those potential customers away
(Note: Nancy operates a blog, Scrapbook Update, at www.scrapbookupdate.com.
She has written numerous articles on scrapbooking for various
publications, including CLN, Creative TECHniques, Scrapbook
Business, and DesignerZine. Nancy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.