2011 was a tumultuous year for the paper crafting industry. We saw the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. (It is taking every ounce of my self-restraint not to reference specific incidents here! Ha!)
As we look back over the year and consider what we’ve seen, a few distinct trends begin to emerge. While I’m not sure what these trends mean for the industry, I will say this: I am hoping that when we look back at this year, we’ll see that 2011 was in fact the beginning of the renaissance for our favorite hobby: Paper crafting!
7 Biggest Paper Crafting Industry Business Trends of 2011
1. Industry Consolidation
After the explosive industry growth of the late 90’s and early 2000’s we have recently experienced some painful industry contraction. In recent years we have mourned the total loss of some customer favorites such as Rusty Pickle, Scenic Route, and Simple Scrapbooker. This year, as the Darwinian “survival of fittest” trend continued, some of our favorite brands have thankfully found a new way to respond to challenge: They have teamed-up with stronger partners in order to survive and (hopefully) thrive. Advantus acquired Cosmo Cricket; Canvas Corp acquired 7Gypsies; American Crafts acquired Crate Paper and Studio Calico; ANW Crestwood acquired Making Memories. Hopefully now these great brands have the financial and operational support they need to continue to bring us the wide variety of products, styles and mediums we crave!
Several brands banded together this year to leverage each others strengths and to reach new customers. Pink Paislee and Prima each co-branded lines with Tattered Angels; American Crafts created a line of products designed by Amy Tan that builds upon her popular & unique style (Amy Tangerine); Provo Craft partnered with Creative Memories to create CM branded Cricut products; Provo Craft partnered with Teresa Collins on additional TC branded cartridges that have been among the most popular cartridges in Provo Craft’s history. Creative Memories partnered with Nancy O’Dell to develop a second book and several lines of products which have brought mainstream attention to our hobby niche. In addition, every week brings cross promotional blog swaps, blog hops and design team swaps galore!
3. Industry Cross-Over
Popular brands have crossed-over into fabrics, stationary and home decor in order to bring their popular designs to a broader audience. Graphic45, Cosmo Cricket, October Afternoon, and others have licensed their designs to fabric manufacturers in order to reach sewers, quilters, altered artists and general crafters; BasicGrey created its own line of children’s specialty home decor; Tim Holtz introduced totes, tissue paper and other items for the gift and home decor market.
4. Store Closings
There’s just no way to spin this one in a positive way. We lost more of our hometown, independent paper crafting stores this year. We did see a few new ones spring to life, but overall, the industry has continued to contract and there are less independent scrapbooking & paper crafting retailers today than there were a year ago today. View our map of all US paper crafting stores here.
5. Direct to Consumer
This year we saw many more manufacturers finding ways to bring their products direct to consumer through special discounts, warehouse sales, daily deals, and HSN (Home Shopping Network.) While the independent store owners may not like this trend, the manufacturers have been forced to find ways to reach new customers and create new revenue sources. With the above-mentioned store closings, the manufacturers can no longer rely exclusively upon distribution to independent stores to meet their own financial goals. Examples of this trend include: Making Memories “Wholesale Prices to Consumer” Sale Site, American Crafts’ short-lived ScrapZoom site (what ever happened to this?), a steady stream of warehouse sales and box sales, and tremendous growth in special crafting deals & packages offered on HSN.
6. Online Classes
The above-referenced store closings have left the consumer with fewer local paper crafting class opportunities. Popular designers have responded to this need by offering more paper crafting classes online. Today, you can find self-paced as well as instructor-led classes for just about any paper crafting topic. Take your class independently or find one presented in an online classroom that attempts to recreate the sense of kinship once found around the table at your local scrapbook store. A few online class options include: Two Peas In a Bucket, Scrapbook.com, Online Card Classes (with Jennifer McGuire & Kristina Werner), True Scrap, Ella Publishing, Donna Downey Video Workshops, Big Picture Classes and many, many more. (To find real-life crops, classes & events in your state, click here. To add your upcoming events to our free listings, find our submission form here.)
The paper crafting industry certainly isn’t the only one to find Facebook to be a convenient way to socialize with like-minded friends .Facebook has seen growth across the board! However, I do think that our numbers on facebook and have increased faster than in other areas. Your average person on the street probably hasn’t even heard of Stampin Up and yet they have more than 100,000 facebook fans. Creating Keepsakes has 50,000 facebook fans.
Consider this: In September 2010 (here & here) we pulled some statistics from facebook and found in September 2010 there were 600,000 people in the US, on facebook, who were interested in scrapbooking, card making or paper crafting. Today, there are 980,000 people in the United States on facebook with those interests!
That’s 63% growth over 15 months! The bottom line is this: If you are in the paper crafting industry, you definitely need to be leveraging Facebook to your best advantage! (Visit or like PaperCrafter’s Corner on facebook here.) If you would like help with your paper crafting industry blog or facebook presence, please contact me to learn more about my social media consulting services. I also have an e-book in the works that local paper crafting retailers are going to love!
These are the paper crafting industry trends we’ve noticed for 2011. (Rebecca shared her fun list of the 9 biggest paper crafting product, technique and style trends of 2011 in her article here.)
What other industry trends have you noticed that we didn’t list here? What do you think of the trends that we highlighted? What do you think the industry has in store for us in 2012? I’d love to hear what you think, via the comments!