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

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What Scrappers Are Saying About Manufacturers and Publishers

Scrapbook Updates' readers analyze the problems.

by Staff Report (November 2, 2009)

The following are manufacturer/publisher-related responses from Scrapbook Update's readers to the question, "is scrapbooking fading?" To read retailer- related responses, click on "Benny Da Buyer."

Customer service

"Many stores and manufacturers got a little big for their britches. Stores have told me they refuse to order from certain manufacturers simply due to customer service issues they love the products but want to be treated well. Some manufacturers would turn their nose up at orders under $500 several years ago. Now many are lowering their minimums to attract new business and make it easier for existing customers to order product. The stores and manufacturers I see succeeding now are those with excellent customer service, in addition to a good business plan.

"It is a problem when manufacturers strike secret deals with box stores and then lie to the independent stores about it in order to get the independent to order the same product. This hurt a lot of stores.

"I subscribe to Scrapbooks Etc. Why? Because their pages are more about techniques, they have sketches and paper piecing patterns I can use, and they present challenges and some interactive elements (online forums). Magazines need to get with the times and stop showcasing pages that cost $50 and 8 hours to make. Again, they need to ask their customers what they want and then present that to them." Jennifer

Losing touch

"Scrapbook companies have lost touch with scrapbookers. Hardly any of the major lines are coming up with anything new. How many lines featuring owls/birds/woodland animals/cherries/etc. do we need? Then when a company does come up with something new, its so 'far out' that most scrappers cant find a way to use it.

"Even companies who make non-consumable goods, such as trimmers and punches, are shooting themselves in the foot." Lorrie

Buying online

"We barely have any scrapbook stores left in the state. So when I do need a particular supply I have to search for it online. Since shipping is so high these days I usually wait until I have a large enough purchase to qualify for free shipping." Mary

Too much stuff

"My main problem with the industry right now is that there is too much stuff! Too much new stuff, too often! If I am lucky enough to get new product when it is released, I barely have time to use it in a project before the manufacturer is coming out with more new stuff! I cant keep up! Both financially and physically! I like new stuff and I like to see what the companies will come up with, but, I think, they need to do it less often. Give consumers time to buy and use the products instead of overwhelming them with more and more." Jodee

Different in Australia

"Its amazing how different the market is to that in Australia. We have not had the same experience (quite yet) as it is still quite a young hobby!" Alison

More photo books, fewer magazines

"I have been scrapping for four years and stamping for one year. I have less free time now, so the way I shop has changed since the birth of my first child seven months ago.

"I take so many more pictures now that I have gone to photo books as my main source of photo printing and preservation. I will continue to make some traditional paper layouts, but most of my photos will now be stored and shared in photo books.

"I have a couple of LSS and big box stores 20 minutes or less from my house, but I visit them less often. I purchase supplies once a month from a Stampin Up! demonstrator through a 'stamp club.' This fulfills my need for a 'class' and shopping, all in about two hours a month. Even though some of the consultant-based retailers have faced challenges, I like the convenience, quality of products, and personal relationships that I have found through this source.

"I stopped subscribing to scrapbooking magazines after Simple Scrapbooks ceased publication. I find a wealth of information through blogs. Google Reader allows me to instantly keep up with so many blogs that I do not miss receiving a magazine or two once a month by mail.

"I would call myself an average, middle-class consumer. I never was a huge purchaser, but I do always see myself scrapping and crafting in some form." Sara

Too many products, prices too high

"I think the 'decline' has more to do with over-saturation and, frankly, no new ideas and products. Ive been scrapping for over 10 years and Ive accumulated a lot of stuff. Many new product lines are too similar to what I already have too shabby, too grungy, too derivative, too 'same ole thing.' I dont need to buy anything because I already have something just like it!" Loydene

"I really agree with the poster who mentioned the prices. They seriously got out of control. There was a point where I just started to feel taken advantage of. If a pen was a pen, it might be $2.00. The same pen marketed to scrapbookers? $4,00! And buttons, $3.99 for 4 buttons? COME ON! The manufacturers got greedy. Thats what I really think. And it started to turn people off." Artsy Sue

Too much product

"When the companies were doing good, they gave you product in the masses (not that thats a bad thing). But seriously, its gonna take you awhile to use 100 brads. Or stacks of 100 pieces of paper, etc. I like the cheaper prices for smaller quantities. I have so much overload that Ive participated in two 'scrapping' garage sales and made money selling my overstock.

"Things like the conventions are a great place to get the items you might not be able to find anywhere else. As for shopping online, I did that, too, but I dont like paying for shipping so Ive stopped that unless I have a large order that gives me the free shipping.

"As for the magazines, they show things that I simply dont have time for on a page AND most importantly, they only feature companies that pay for the advertising. Im letting all my current subscriptions go, but I may start getting BHG's Scrapbooks, Etc. simply because they address the current 'real' trends and I dont feel like Im being sold anything when I read it. If there was a magazine that should have gone out, it should not have been Simple Scrapbooks, but some of the other publications." Allison

Mostly mini-albums

"I had become appalled at the prices of things people seemed to spend huge amounts on the cute embellishments. Where did so many get so much money? How much did their 30-page scrapbook cost? Most of those things I would only buy with coupons, but lately, coupons go only for tools that can be used lots of times.

"My scrapbooks now are mostly mini-albums that can be started on a whim and finished in a few days while the fervor lasts and reveal a single event rather than trying to cram every bit of my life onto pages. It takes off a lot of pressure and leaves just the fun." Laura

Same old, same old

"Then I look at what the manufacturers are all doing. They're all producing the same looking things, with the same tired themes. I just saw some 'new' Christmas lines and my response was, 'why buy that when it looks almost identical to some BG paper I still have from two or three years ago. I don't call this 'NEW.' And, that's the other big reason why I buy very little anymore. I don't need more of the same.

"One company comes up with something really new (well, that, IMO, hasn't happened in a while) and every other company jumps on the bandwagon to produce their own almost identical version of the same thing. Like, after a few companies did designs with cherries for Winter 09 CHA, WHY did more companies do more designs with Cherries for Summer 09 CHA????? There is no originality in manufacturers anymore IMO.

"And then, the ridiculous prices for so much of what's come out. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing the Jenni Bowlin line that was coming out for Summer CHA. But when Archiver's got some of the products in and my friends and I looked at them, and the price tags on them, we said, 'forget it! We're not paying $5 - $6 for a little pack of chipboard buttons, etc.'

"And, finally, (is she EVER going to shut up, lol), I, and many of my friends, have become quite bored with the same few themes brought around every year by the manufacturers. I realize they are focused on making the biggest profit for their buck, but after scrapping for almost 12 years, there's just a whole lot more that I do with my scrapbooking besides the annual Christmas, Easter, July 4th, etc., etc., etc. It's the same 'merry go round' year after year, so I've stopped riding." Brenda

Keep it basic

"I think somewhere along the way, the hobby forgot what it's about preserving memories. While it's fun to play with all the latest and greatest (and I'm guilty of being a new product hoarder/monger), most people are happy to have the basic supplies and they want to know how to use them so they can get their albums done. They could care less about scrap celebs and design teams." Carolyn

Keep it simple

"The knitting, quilting and scrapping manufacturers must understand us. Not everyone is interested in being on the cutting edge. We are not interested in crackle-painting our paper, covering it with masking tape and multiple layers of rub-ons. When we knit, we don't incorporate beads, Mylar, or sculpture. We want good quality paper, multi-function tools, and the knowledge that products we like will available in the future. If DMC announced that their floss colors were being replaced quarterly, we would all buy hundreds of skeins of our favorite colors and then stop buying. Stop allowing the designers to drive your product and you will get us back." Punch Princess

Magazines' vicious circle

"As for the magazines that have closed, it's a sad thing for sure, but even Reader's Digest has filed for bankruptcy, so that tells you that the world is changing and people aren't spending their dollars on magazines. My parents have subscribed to Reader's Digest for most of my life, but when the content became less interesting and more about advertising dollars, they let their subscription lapse.

"It's a vicious circle: the magazine needs advertisers, but not at the expense of content. I believe that happened with the scrapbooking magazines too. There were too many repeated articles, (how many times does a magazine need to run articles on choosing your color combinations before boring the consumer?) and not enough quality articles about what scrapbookers are interested in.

"One hugely popular area of interest is how scrappers set up their studios and store their product. This was a section I personally looked forward to in any magazine I subscribed to. However, over time, someone decided we weren't interested in this or decided that the featured studios had to be designer studios rather than places where the ordinary scrapbooker created.

"I think not understanding what the scrapbookers wanted contributed to the downfall of many magazines." Sandi

The effect of machines

I started paper crafting (mostly cardmaking, some scrapbooking) while the field was at the tail end of its unique origin artists and companies dominated by women marketing to women in similar lifestyles. This was the first time I'd seen anything like it companies actually run and marketed by women like me! The designers, marketers, people in charge of advertising understood their market completely.

As the hobby burgeoned, these smaller companies started getting eaten up by larger ones run by corporate executives need I say it? not in similar lifestyles. You saw designs coming out determined by large marketing studies, as papers from different companies began to look more and more alike.

While design individuality became rarer, larger ticket items flooded the market. Little independent stores went out of business, not because the market was dwindling, but because big-box stores knew a good thing when they saw one, and because the little guys couldn't offer such good deals, especially on the big ticket machines.

Crafters began wanting their cards and scrapbooks to look more and more like manufactured products and flocked to these new machines. The idea of a card actually looking handmade shifted back to committed artists, away from the mass market. Scrapbooks with machine-made die cuts and other elements became more popular, many of these looking more like corporate annual reports than personal documents. To me these trends diminished crafting consciousness.

I'm more likely now to make my own paper designs from stamps, embossing, and paper I already have than to buy new papers, although I haven't stopped purchasing new products altogether. I still appreciate design originality, of which there still is plenty just not as much. I'm also making my own embellishments from scratch much more than before so I'm more likely to buy individual elements from the jewelry-making section or from hardware stores. Addie



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