Attracting the Next Generation of Crafters
By Reeve Bunn


The craft and hobby industry is currently experiencing growth, in large part due to the baby boomers nearing retirement and having some spare time on their hands. These are the customers that we have had for years, and they will continue to buy from us, they may even begin to buy more once they find a few extra hours to craft. But if you are looking to grow your business, how do you find new customers? The answer is to figure out how to sell to these boomersí children and grand children.

The problem is, most adolescents and young adults arenít going to drop the remote or Playstation controller and pick up a knitting book. So how do we bridge this gap? The two main aspects we will focus on are education and marketing.

Education is the key to growing you business with the youth of today. However, the way that this younger generation learns has changed. This generation is unlikely to teach themselves to crochet through a black and white pattern book. They search out information over the internet, not the phone book or library. They learn by watching DVDs, not reading books. They donít get information through newspapers, but through pod casts, television, and the internet. If you would like to reach this audience, you have to be seen where they are looking. Creating a website is a good starting point. If donít have the budget for a website, an alternative is to make your store a My Space page (www.myspace.com), which is extremely popular with the youth. The best part, itís free!

The 14-34 age group also need to feel included and valued in the marketing of your store or products. For example, if a grandmother were watching a television commercial about the latest video game, she would be completely uninterested because the market for that commercial is young people that are her grandsonís age. The opposite is true as well. When the grandmother is reading her craft store mail out flyer, the grandchild would be left uninterested because it is not marketed towards him or her. For young adults to feel included, they need to be shown that this market wants their business and values them as customers. It could be as simple as having a young staff member to establish a younger presence in your store. You could also include a photo of a few younger people crafting on your next poster or mail out.

Our goals are to educate the youth and also make them feel welcomed. Hosting crafting classes specifically for this age group covers both of these goals. They are learning to craft and by welcoming them into your store, you are making them feel very included. However you must make these classes to suit their tastes. Shorter, more relaxed classes are what they are looking for. Some ways to make the atmosphere more youthful is adding music in the background, making the class more of a socializing event (party), and having a younger instructor they can relate to. Make your classes cheap or free, keeping in mind you arenít trying to make your money off the classes, you are trying to make these new crafters who need product loyal shoppers of yours. After all, you helped them learn this great new hobby! And of course, make sure you drop your class flyers off at all the local junior and senior high schools!

Attracting these younger customers to your stores now will not only increase your current business, but it will keep your company healthy for generations to come, until todayís grandchild is tomorrowís grandparent


Reeve Bunn is the general manager of Mathew's Craft and Hobbies, a supplier of crafting products in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. You can learn more about them at www.craftandhobbies.com

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