WHAT PEOPLE BUY: CRAFTS, SEWING, KNITTING, OR NEEDLEWORK SUPPLIES


WHAT PEOPLE BUY: CRAFTS, SEWING, KNITTING, OR NEEDLEWORK SUPPLIES

Craft supplies were purchased by 29 percent of households in 2003, down some 10 percentage points from reported purchase incidence in 2001 of 39 percent of households. A hobby for some, cheap "therapy" for others, crafting is enjoyed by over half of U.S. households, according to research conducted by the Hobby Industry Association. Susan Brandt, director of communications at the Hobby Industry Association, explains that interest in crafts rose in the aftermath of September 11: "We are an industry people go to in times of trouble. They take solace in staying busy and doing things with their hands."

Industry Snapshot

Do-it-yourself has taken on a whole new meaning today. As the cost of basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter, fall, saving money through crafting is no longer the prime motivator for consumers to craft. Rather consumers turn to crafting today to express creativity and find personal fulfillment in the creative process. Trendsetting home decorating shows, such as Trading Spaces and While You Were Out on The Learning Channel and Christopher Lowell Show on The Discovery Channel, as well as the daily programming from HGTV, have taught consumers new ways to have fun and connect with family and friends while doing it yourself.

Driven by consumer interest in crafting hobbies, the growth in the crafting industry has been dynamic, according to statistics compiled by the Hobby Industry Association. The total market for craft and hobby supplies reached $29 billion in 2002, up about 13 percent over sales in 2001. The sales of general crafts ($12.5 billion) and needlecrafts ($8.4 billion) account for nearly three-fourths of industry sales in 2002. The other segments of the craft market, painting and finishing ($4.9 million) and floral crafts ($3.2 million) are much smaller by comparison.

Retail Overview

Discount department stores take the lead in stores where people shop for crafts, sewing, knitting, and needlework supplies. Some 49 percent of craft-buying shoppers have made purchases of their supplies at discount department stores, while 37 percent visited specialty hobby stores when shopping for crafts. Other specialty stores are also a favored place for buying craft supplies. This class of stores, a category that includes such stores as gift stores, office supply stores, and stationers, attracted 29 percent of the crafts, sewing, knitting, and needlework consumers in the past year, putting it in a strong third place.

Nonstore retailers, including Internet, mail order, direct sales, and television shopping, was used by 15 percent of crafts buyers, with those 35 years and older being more likely than the younger consumers to use these outlets.

While discount department stores may take the lead in craft supplies, when consumers really want to appease their passion for crafting they turn to the specialty craft stores. Michaels Stores is the nation's largest specialty crafts retailer, with nearly 800 craft stores in operation (see Figure 7.8). The chain generated $2.5 billion in revenues in 2002. Michaels Stores' growth has become legendary, rising from a chain of only 16 stores in the mid-1980s. Today, the Michaels Stores company also operates a chain of 150-plus art and framing stores under the Aaron Brothers brand. Michaels Stores also offers custom picture framing as part of their service mix.

 

EST. 2002 SALES

Michaels Stores (920 stores)

$2.5 billion

Jo-Ann Stores (920 stores)

1.6 billion

Hobby Lobby (272 stores)

905 million

Hancock Fabrics (430 stores)

412 million

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts (70 stores)

393 million

Source: 2002 Directory of Discount and General Merchandise Stores by Chain Store


Figure 7.8: Craft Store Market Share Leaders

Keeping an eye on emerging trends in the crafting business, Michaels has identified a significant opportunity in the scrapbooking crafts market, a hobby that appeals to both the traditional crafts market (i.e., middleaged women tied to traditional paper and scissors) as well as the youth and teen enthusiasts who are incorporating computer technology into the hobby. It has launched a new chain called ReCollections just for the scrapbooking audience and plans to open as many as 10 new ReCollections stores in its first year of operation. What accounts for Michaels steady growth? By keeping focused on its mission—to help people express themselves creatively—and tracking the evolving interests of its customers, the company has found a formula for success that taps deep-seated longings in people everywhere.

Purchase Drivers

Crafting provides a creative outlet that many consumers need, especially in today's complex, technology-driven society. A respondent explained: "If you have a creative nature, you have to do something. For some, it is art, or acting, or writing, but for me it is crafts. I have to have an outlet, something to do with my hands." Crafting relieves stress for some, as another consumer says: "It takes the place of me going to a therapist."

The Hobby Industry Association reports that scrapbooking and memory crafts are the most popular crafting activities being participated in by 38 percent of crafters. Interest in scrapbooking has exploded in the past several years, rising from a participation rate of 11 percent in 2000 to be the leading crafts activity today. Through scrapbooking crafters are connecting with their past, present, and future. By creating a scrapbook, one is collecting and sharing memories and emotions with family and friends. The scrapbooking passion also crosses age barriers, with tweens, teens, and young adults creating personal scrapbooks right alongside of their mothers and grandmothers.

After scrapbooking, the next most popular crafts include general crafts (35 percent), followed by needle crafts (28 percent), and painting/ drawing (25 percent).

Demographic Variables

Crafting is a female-dominated activity with women reporting much higher purchase incidence for their household (41 percent) than men (16 percent). While men strictly speaking "craft," they tend to use different terms than women to describe their crafting activities. For example, a man might putter around his home workshop doing woodworking, but he perceives those activities as "work" rather than crafting, though his wife might beg to differ.

This activity tends to skew older, with consumers aged 45 to 64 years having the highest overall purchase incidence. As with most categories, purchase incidence drops sharply at age 65. Whites participate in craft purchasing more than blacks. Middle-to-upper-income households ($35,000 or more) buy more crafts than do lower-income families. Households with children tend to buy more craft supplies than do those without children.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Crafts, Sewing, Knitting, and Needle-Work Supplies.

  • This is a female-oriented market.

  • Households with incomes of $35,000 or more buy more.

  • Mature households between ages 45 and 64 buy more.

  • Households with children buy more.