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The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

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Interview with Sandra Joseph

Blunt talk about challenges, trends, and the future.

By Mike Hartnett (September, 2003)

(Note: Sandra is the former National Director of Memories Community, a national scrapbook association founded from her conception of Tri-State Scrapbooking Association. Memories Community is affiliated with Memories Expo consumer/trade shows.

Sandra is now President of Reminders of Faith, a new publishing and product development company that teaches others how to document their spiritual journey. Reminders of Faith books and products will be released at the HIA show in February. The website, www.remindersoffaith.com, will be online next month. CLN will inform you when it's "live.")

CLN: What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the scrapbook industry today?

As the scrapbooking industry continues to grow and mature, the challenges will be to continue keeping up with the pace and demand of the consumer's wants. There are so many creative and innovative scrapbookers who design page layouts and new techniques. They then communicate these new ideas and concepts quickly with each other via the Internet.

Suddenly companies are scrambling to fulfill the demand created. It is a classic example of "putting out fires" instead of fire prevention. Companies must learn how to use the Internet scrapbook communities that really fuel our industry.

CLN: With the increase in the number of scrapbook retailers and manufacturers, are we reaching a point of over-saturation? Is the pie is being divided into too many pieces for everyone to make a profit?

JOSEPH: I always enjoy answering this question. As a scrapbooker, I absolutely love all of the new products and opportunities to shop, and I know this echoes what other scrapbookers feel. I strongly feel that competition will continue to drive our market to make it stronger and even more creative

. Several years ago, I visited the Kellogg's Center in Battle Creek Michigan. When the process of turning grain into flakes was first developed, over 300 new cereal companies were opened within 3-5 years of each other. Of course, we all know now that only a few remain, even though cereal remains a vital, stable part of our diets.

The same thing will happen throughout the scrapbooking industry as we mature, but we are still growing (out of our infancy, but definitely in our toddler stage). We are already seeing this happen, as many of the larger companies are buying up the smaller manufacturers.

I also love to answer this question this way: over 90% of all Americans take photos and intend to do something with these photos during their lives. (No one takes photos intending to store them in boxes.) I have seen different statistics, but among the highest number I've seen, of Americans that scrapbook, is 21%. That means that there is still a great number of consumers to learn scrapbooking and to bring more and larger profits to our industry.

We have to continue to reach the non-scrapbooker with our message. That means reaching beyond the existing scrapbook audience through women's publications, events, workplaces, etc. CLN: Should scrapbook retailers expand more into rubber stamps, cardmaking, altered books, etc., or concentrate on scrapbooking?

Any scrapbook store that limits itself to only scrapbooking supplies without embracing the cross-over market will severely limit its profit.

The entire paper crafting field must be embraced by the entire scrapbook industry. Scrapbookers are making more cards than ever before, and altered books are in their infancy, along with other paper crafts. It is exciting to see how the other markets add to the scrapbooking market and vice-versa.

CLN: Do you think Michaels' ReCollections concept will be a success, expand, and therefore be a threat to independents around the country?

I have no doubt that ReCollections, along with Archivers and Memories stores, will be a success. And yes, they will be a threat because they have the financial backing to support them even when they make mistakes -- which they will, like all businesses.

Does this mean that I think the independent retailers will go out of businesses? Some will, but they do not have to if they have a good business plan, enough capital backing (this is essential), and the marketing ability to turn inventory and bring in new customers.

I have met hundreds of store owners across the United States, and there are plenty of great business-savvy store owners out there.

CLN: From your time as National Director of Memories Community and the Expo shows, what's the most common complaint about retailers you heard from scrapbookers?

Store employees not being friendly. Women are most of our consumers, and how they are treated is the number one thing that concerns them. From teaching a "Marketing to Women" seminar, I always tell and hear stories about how scrapbookers will not return to a place because of the way they are treated. If a scrapbooker is treated with concern and personal interest, she will forgive most other complaints.

Never, never underestimate the importance of being friendly to scrapbookers.

CLN: Does digital photography pose a danger, that consumers will keep their photos in computers rather than in scrapbooks?

Digital photography is only going to make scrapbooking more fun and creative. As scrapbookers learn to manipulate their photos for their scrapbook pages, it will only make scrapbooking more creative.

Just recently I have been called by several major computer companies wanting to learn more about the scrapbooking industry and how they can be a part of it. I believe those on the cutting edge of the scrapbooking industry will be teaching classes on digital photography, and teaching how to use printers and scanners for optimum use -- as well as incorporating computers in crops, classes, and stores.

CLN: The hot trend in scrapbooking seems to be embellishing. True? Do you see any new trends on the horizon?

The next trend will be focusing on different demographic markets that are also scrapbooking. For the past 7 years, almost all scrapbook products have been produced for the white, Angelo Saxon scrapbooker. But the scrapbook market is now comprised of scrapbookers in all colors, shapes, faiths, interests, and both sexes.

I always watch Creative Memories' lines, and they have recently come out with different international lines, which indicates to me this will be one of the next trends.

Sue DiFranco of Fun Fact Publishing and I have been teaching marketing to target groups the past year, and we have learned so much about how scrapbooking appeals to many different markets. Sue is just finishing writing a book called Scrapbook U-Diversity: Redefining The Scrapbooking Industry, and I of course see great potential for the cross over into the Christian Market through Reminders of Faith.

Note: Previous articles in CLN's Memory, Paper & Stamp section are available by clicking on the titles at the top of the right-hand column.



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THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING IN MICHIGAN; And probably everywhere else.

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SCRAPBOOKING IS APPEALING TO THE WRONG MARKET; We aren't keeping it inviting to newcomers.

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