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What To Do About Scrapbooking

Reconnect with its roots: printing photos and preserving family legacies.

by Peter Curran (December 5, 2011)

(Note: Peter Curran is the Director of Sales & Marketing for WorldWin Papers since November, 2010. Prior to WorldWin, he was a consumer marketer for the past 25 years, having worked in advertising agencies, and non-profit marketing and sales. Curran has been journaling since high school and enjoys photography and now scrapbooking where he tells stories for his two sons.)

Scrapbooking research numbers and consumer comments speak loud and clear: it time to collectively react?

Here’s a thought-starter we've been sharing with the scrapbook industry media, bloggers, and customers over the last three months. Do you think it’s worth thinking about?

It's called "Print a photo. Save a Memory."  It's designed to encourage non-scrapbookers to print some of their favorite photos currently stored on their computer's hard drive. Then, encourage them to visit their local scrapbook or craft store to get some photo-keeping supplies to save the prints for generations to come. 

The effort, during 2012 would provide a percentage of manufacturers' sales to the National Alzheimer’s Association. Through this donation, the scrapbook category could use the Alzheimer's Association logo. Memory keeping and saving a loved-one's memory is important to many.

Why would we suggest something like this? Consider the numbers from CHA's annual Attitude & Usage studies::

1. Scrapbook Category Sales: Down $1 billion dollars since 2006

2. Number of households participating in scrapbooking: 16%, unchanged in the last four years.  From all accounts, it appears that the category is not growing.

3. Percentage who say they agreed with this statement in 2010, "I'm interested in preserving my family history and memories": 55%. This percentage is down from 66% in 2007. Why? Don't people care?  Is scrapbooking "old fashioned,"? Too hard to do in a busy, modern world?  We need to find out.

More insight: 78% of consumers have a digital camera. … Consumers take more photos than ever before. … Only 60% of them print any photos. … Most photos are stored on a personal computer hard drive. … Most view this as “the” place to store photos today. … Facebook is approaching 100 billion photos uploaded for sharing; many don’t see any better way than this to share a photo. … Nearly all "photobook" companies online now offer "print-from-Facebook" options for prints and books. … Passing around a camera and viewing pictures in a view-finder is not unheard of today.

The consumer comments

(From the CHA Insight study of 2007)

Some craft less because they are "too busy or stressed." … There is a "not finished" syndrome; some crafters have a hard time finishing projects and a few have quit as a result. … "Work" and "life" get in the way of crafting.

From blog and article comments:

"I briefly scrapbooked, but realized it took more time, effort, and money than I wanted." -- Families.com blog, 2010

"We have to help women believe that their kids really won't care what the pages look like, as long as there are photos and names, dates, and places that help tell a story." – a retailer in Minnesota

"Our system makes it easier than ever before to capture, document, and share your memories in a simple, yet meaningful way – but without all of the time, guilt and stress!" – a Utah manufacturer's "Idea Guide" for his product

"I think we would do better to put the emphasis on photo and history preservation and not on the "artsy" part. I think the sample layouts manufacturers are posting on their blogs are over-the-top ridiculous." – a retailer in Washington

"Somewhere between the card stock and stickers aisles, I broke out in hives. Overwhelmed by options and my lack of creativity, I panicked and fled the store." – Renee in a newspaper article, October 2011

Has scrapbooking lost its way?

I did a Google search on what scrapbooking "is" today and found an online download publication called, "21 Ways to Find More Joy & Ease in Memory Keeping." If scrapbooking needs "self-help" tools to make it more fun, my fear is that the industry is in deep trouble. If scrapbooking is a craft or a hobby, aren't those activities supposed to be fun? If it's not fun, who's likely to continue to do something that causes pain?

What can the industry do to collaborate?

I suggest a year-long, CHA-organized public relations effort targeted exclusively to non-scrapbookers to give the industry a chance to attract new consumers into the category.

Position scrapbook and craft stores as places for "photo keeping experts."  They have been for years and still are.

Align with the Alzheimer’s Associaton.

Create the following tools to spread the word:

1. A YouTube quarterly video series announcing the alliance and why we believe it is important.

2. Static-cling stickers for all store fronts in the U.S. and Canada identifying the store and industry as home of "photo experts."

3. Memory Keeping Stories blog.

4. Weekly stories about how memory keeping helps those in crisis.

5. Examples of what keeping a photo means to families.

6. Why keeping printed photos is so important in our growing digital world.

7. Historians' view that a "generation of family history could be lost if consumers don't start printing photos."

8. Preservationists' warnings that technology is not fail-safe and that a printed photo should be saved along with digital files.

9. Encourage manufacturers to create "photo-centric" concepts that align with their mission and attract non-scrapbookers who don’t know what a "corner chomper," a "mist," or for that matter what a Cricut is.

10. Provide retailers with plan-o-grams and merchandising strategies for creating a "photo organizing" section of their store to sell just photo stuff that meets the needs of the non-scrapper.

So what about my core scrapbookers?

We aren't suggesting that you ignore them. What we are suggesting is that it is time to segment your store, marketing, and mindset into a "new users" segment and an "enthusiast" segment.

We no longer can view all consumers who walk through the doors as looking for "scrapbooking" supplies. Some just want to mat a photo, put some photos in an album, or some want to add some alphabet stickers to make a graduation album quickly.

As you've seen with a lot of new products over the past couple of years, enthusiasts often scoop up the latest ideas first. They love to try new products, forms, and techniques. They will continue to do that. Yet, they can't grow a category where manufacturers are only designing products for current users.

Scrapbooking roots?

Didn't it all begin with a need/desire to keep photos and tell a story of family lineage? This manufacturer believes it's time to focus on that message again, especially to non-scrapbookers. If we as an industry, don't tell them "what scrapbooking is still about," we aren’t likely going to capture new users.

Pushing new designer collections, patterns, colors, metal embellishments, and the like will do nothing to bring in new users unless we bring back a photo-centric industry voice and marketing.

"Pushing" cardmaking and making paper banners and handmade crafts, etc., will do nothing to build the core of what started the papercrafting industry: scrapbooking of family photos.

What do you think?

If you want to be a part of a movement in the industry to attract non-scrapbookers, then raise your hand!

Please let me know your comments at curran@worldwinpapers.com. I’ll share your comments with CHA to inform them of what the industry is thinking.

Ask a fellow retailer to offer an opinion by sharing this article with them. Talk with manufacturers you want to see succeed by sharing your thoughts and this article with them.

Thanks for reading this article and considering this point of view.



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