Millennials and the craft industry

Knitting, once a pastime for the elderly now seems to attracting a new audience in millennials with a passion for craft. For many it is a productive way to spend their free time. It’s a creative craft for self-expression, similar to hair, skin, and clothing. 

Girls are the new “sewists” as sewing enthusiasts prefer to be referred to, as well as makers, crafters and do-it-yourselfers. They are eager to find new ways to express themselves creatively. They are proud of what they produce and design. Some of them are actually selling their creations, rather than merely utilizing them or giving them as gifts.

There is a challenge for sewing and yarn shops, crafting and hobby stores, and others that sell the tools and supplies. It is attracting them to their stores, or making their stores appealing to these young crafters.

Traditional sewing, hobby, and crafting establishments are being disrupted by the next generation of crafts hobbyists. These businesses must evolve or perish.

Joann, a national fabric and craft company, has got it right. It just opened a next-generation concept shop near its corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. It has beeing operating for 75 years of service and has around 850 stores. Its focal point is an open-air Creator’s Studio where both experienced and novice crafters come. They learn new skills, take classes, rent equipment to complete projects, and socialize with friends and fellow crafters.

Customers come in to seek inspiration, learn from team members, and share creative experiences with others. They construced a store unlike any other in the world based on market knowledge and DIY trends. It  is the most inviting and inclusive craft experience ever built.

Millennials who love craft will also love the new Joann concept store, which is equipped with a variety of high-tech/high-touch features. These include a Craft Creator touchscreen kiosk where customers can search Pinterest for new crafting projects. There is also a new Cut Bar where customers can choose their fabric and continue shopping. They are then texted that their cut fabric is ready for pick up.

Joann’s concept store will assist enterprising crafters in selling their creations by setting up installations for creatives to display their work. Craft fairs and local community activities will be able to use the Creator’s Studio as well. Embracing creativity as a tool to bring people together is more meaningful than ever before in this digital era. The concept shop makes Joann the best place to find inspiration, tools, and a method to share creativity with others.

Not all of the craft industry is so succesful in attracting new clients however. Some continue to operate as if it were the 1970s or 1980s.  Companies operating like that can’t expect to obtain the same results by doing the same things.

A typical sewing business is still tailored to older customers rather than younger clients. If they want people to come to their store they need to give them an experience worth coming for. It should be something they can post to Instagram.  

Many shopkeepers are oblivious to the needs of customers under the age of 40. These stores should t hink about what people are searching for if they want them to start sewing. Many of the designs and fabric are very old fashioned. 

Shops who hope to attract creative hobbyists must bring their stores into the twenty-first century. This new audience  are the youngest they’ve ever been.  Millennials, who are between the ages of 18 and 34, make up the highest group of craft enthusiasts (41 percent).  36 percent are between the ages of 35 and 54, and 23% are 55 and older.”

Craft supplies are sold in 75,000 retail outlets.

These include specialty craft stores, national craft chains, mass market discount stores, dollar stores and art supply stores. They are even in hardware and drug stores. The total market size is around $36 billion.

Brick-and-mortar shops account for over 90% of industry sales. Young and elderly makers, rookies and seasoned creators are increasingly turning to online retailers and home buying channels. Changes in consumer behavior support the need for retailers to engage their customers. This can be achieved via simultaneous strategies that combine satisfying in-store and online shopping experiences.

62 percent of U.S. families participate in at least one crafts activity.

Even more unexpected is the fact that most crafters don’t adhere to just one hobby. They tend to engage in a variety of them. Only 16 percent of crafters work on just one project, 39 percent work on two or more, and 45 percent work on five or more.

Edible arts (17%), painting and sketching (16%), youngsters crafts (16%), sewing and textiles (11%) and paper crafts (11%) are the most popular creative activities. 

Millennials also share their love of craft hobbies with their children. Millennial parents engage in children’s crafts because they perceive it as a chance to bond with their children. They also understand the importance of these activities for their children’s creative development and hand to eye coordination.

Craftsing have a strong connection with millennials’ zeitgeist.

It’s a method to express oneself and a way to channel one’s creative energies. It’s also a way to engage with family and friends, and a good use of time, money, and resources.

Millennials have a strong desire to repurpose, reuse, and upcycle existing items into new, unique gems. The trend has even gained the attention of fast-fashion behemoth H&M. It has started a Take Care initiative in Hamburg and opened a new flagship on rue La Fayette in Paris. The plan is to ultimately expand the concept even further afield.

Customers can bring old clothes back to the Take Care department for guidance on refurbishing and repairs. They also offer repair kits to repair buttons and zippers.  H&M also has specialists and seamstresses on hand to offer advise, hold workshops, and provide embroidery services. Clients can then customise the clothing from the store  This is all part of the company’s sustainability drive, which caters to the company’s practical, do-it-yourself ethos.

One of the main reasons why millennials are attracted to craft and creative activities is the ability to personalize items.

This was the epiphany that led Joann to create a new concept store. Pinterest also noticed a spike in searches for DIY customised T-shirts in 2017.  To make one, you would need a serger machine, which only the most serious home sewers have. Customers can use the new Creator’s Studio in its concept shop. Not only to buy fabric and accessories and learn how to make their own T-shirts, but also to use a serger and electric cutting machines to bring their unique idea to life.

There is no time to waste for craft retailers. They must transform their shops into Instagram-worthy hangouts for the next generation of creative hobbyists.

Leave a Comment