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The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

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Scrapbooking Is Appealing to the Wrong Market 

We aren't keeping it inviting to newcomers.. 

By Sandra Joseph, Reminders of Faith (March 7, 2005)

The first Scrapbooking In America survey in 2002 showed that more than 22% of all Americans had scrapbooked in the past year. We who are in the industry were thrilled with this percentage. When this survey was repeated and released in August 2004, we only showed a 3% growth, making it 25 % of all Americans who had scrapbooked in the past year.

Suddenly, the industry felt threatened that our market was not growing as before. Everyone then became concerned that they had to be first with new concepts and products to grab this 25%.

Although having 25% of American homes who have scrapbooked is a good subculture number, that still means that there are 75% of American homes who have not scrapbooked. Yet we know that they are taking photos; more than 90% of Americans take photos each year.

Scrapbooking today actually started in earnest about 10 years ago, Memory Makers published its first issue in 1996, and the first scrapbook convention, Memories Expo, was in 1997. We all know the industry grew (and grew and grew) to where we are today.

But now the generation of consumers who started with us has matured, and the moments in their lives that started them scrapbooking have grown as well Ė getting married, babies being born, etc. Those early consumers have grown into soccer moms with full schedules of taxing children, jobs, and school activities. They are still scrapbooking, but many are very busy and donít have the time they once had.

Now there is a new generation starting their lifeís journey. But we are not reaching out to the new generation of scrapbookers with the same effort and passion; we are all still going after the same 25% for our audience.

Attracting Ė or scaring Ė newcomers.

Reminders of Faith has exhibited at several different consumer events this year. (They have all been programs geared toward the younger women of faith). Our experience has been eye opening for me.

About 25% of the women were interested in scrapbooking, but I heard many of the same comments over and over again: "It's too hard," "I donít have time," and "I want to but I donít need one more thing to feel guilty about."

I always then ask these women if they take photos; the answer is always yes and that they want to do something with those photos, but they donít want it to be overwhelming and hard.

I met with a buyer for a large Christian retailing group who had just made a scrapbook for her mother-in-law. She expressed her feelings of being overwhelmed at going to a scrapbook retailer and having so much "stuff" to chose from. She didnít know where to start and no one helped her. She wanted to leave the store and give up. (She loved our theme packs because it was all inclusive and she did not have to mix and match on her own.)

She is a very busy, professional woman who was not one of our core scrapbookers. We almost lost her because of how difficult we have made it. She asked me why is there so much stuff: "I just wanted to put photos of my kids into an album for my mother-in-law, not create an artistic masterpiece."

Several magazines have evolved the same way. They are all about image; they are not warm and friendly. We have made scrapbooking into cliques, like high school (and believe me, no woman wants to go back to that). This is fine if we want to appeal only to the same 25%, but what about the other 75%?

Where is the passion that we began with? Our desire to preserve and share our memories because they have meaning and will have meaning for the future? I know that years from now, no one will be be looking at the layout as much as they will be looking at the message.

So my comment is this: we need to quit doing all of our marketing to the same hard-core group (such as the two peas groupies and such) and specifically reach out to the new, younger group for whom we have made it scrapbooking too hard, too confusing, too expensive. These potential scrappers are already taking photos and they want to do something with their photos, but not necessarily spend hours to create an artistic design. We need to reach out to them with specific marketing outside of our own industry and most of all, Keep It Simple And Easy.

This year Reminders of Faith did not introduce large numbers of new products; we did not feel that our existing products had saturated the marketplace yet. That was a difficult decision, but why should we market new products when our products are just now hitting the market with force?

Our market is changing and the players are getting bigger Ė but remember that there are still 75% of American homes that have not scrapbooked yet. And THAT is our market.

(Note: Sandra is the former executive director of the Memories Community and is now president of Reminders of Faith. Visit her website at www.remindersoffaith.com or email her at sandraj@remindersoffaith.com. To read Memory, Paper, and Stamp columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.



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