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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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How To Make the Scrapbook Pie Larger

"Keep it simple and non-threatening."

by Name Withheld (August 15, 2005)

(Note: CLN has been exchanging emails about scrapbooking with a manufacturer about how to grow the category.)

Unfortunately I'm not sure there are many ways manufacturers can play a part in that. One thing I have thought of is for manufacturers to make more kits so that consumers can quickly and easily "grab and go," saving time and also ensuring a pleasing result at the end of the valuable time spent on this hobby.

(Unfortunately, however, word to us from retailers is that currently kits are not very popular with their customers, so my husband for one is not interested in making what they don't want to buy. Ah, there we go again, the never ending cycle!)

I believe it is retailers who have the biggest role in attracting new customers to the world of scrapbooking, and to their doors - isn't that what any business should be spending part of the day doing?

Some helpful components would be more classes for beginners, some called "stress free" or "quick and easy" or some other term that helps people feel it will be fun and painless. I can't count the number of women I have personally spoken with who are curious and interested in this "new hobby" and feel they really "should" deal with all of those photos they take annually.

Rather than pursuing the newest "artsy" tool, technique, or the trendiest brand, stores should be looking for ways to simplify and instruct. The goal for retailers should be to attract and embrace newbies, solve their scrapbook "problems," and ease their insecurities about being creative or "ever getting through that big pile of photos."

Stores could run games, contests, or promotions to reward regulars who bring in the most new customers within a given period or other similar strategies to spread the word.

Finally, scrapbooking needs more people like Stacy Julian. She is the greatest preacher and cheerleader for the hobby that I have had the pleasure of seeing in person. The magazine she founded, Simple Scrapbooks, has positioned itself as the "gateway to scrapbooking" because publishing powerhouse Primedia knows the way to more add dollars for themselves is to increase that pie.

Stacy's philosophy, as I understand it, is "Keep it simple, get it done, and live your life!" It is still the most realistic, balanced approach to the hobby that I see out there. The frenzied masses at the conventions can seem hokey, strange, or downright scary to many people. Stacy's approach makes sense and has the best chance of success at attracting newcomers.

Personally I believe scrapbooking will never go away, but the plethora of inane products (printed twist ties anyone?) we enjoy today may. Are they necessary for the hobby? Not really. Is preserving your life experience for future generations important? Yes, I think more so everyday.

Also, I believe the true success and endurance of this hobby lies in its connection to photography and our collective love of capturing and reviewing images. It was either this year or last that digital camera sales finally outpaced sales of film cameras. The digital revolution has arrived, bringing with it a new ease of capturing images on a daily basis. This will only add to the growing collections out there and offer more possibilities for marketing storage, display, and storytelling products.

Witness some recent innovations in hard-bound digital photo books and other products that can be ordered and arrive complete at your doorstep. Paper, stickers, and glue sticks are only one way to address this very large interest area. Retailers who embrace all of these facets photography, imaging services, product sales and instruction, are poised for the future of scrapbooking.

(Note: To comment on this or any other industry subject, email CLN at mike@clnonline.com. To read previous "Vinny" columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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