Jun 19, 2007

The Vocal Minority

I was going through some research done by The Photo Marketing Association for the scrapbook industry and stumbled on an interesting bit of information. One of the questions was "why do you scrap"? Most people scrapped to preserve their family history. But, down at the bottom was this little stat that shows that 4% of people who scrap do so as an "art form".

On another question about what kind of albums do you make, 2% of those who scrapped said they make albums for the sake of "art". Wow! That surprised me, but then again not really. If you read the blogs and magazines, so many of the scrappers we celebrate in this industry have designated themselves as a "Life Artist". And, the magazines have devoted a LOT of space to layouts containing photos of graffiti on buildings, eyes, high-fashion shoes, etc. I would call that "art" over history any day of the week. Fifty years from now, no one will care what color your toenails were on Tuesday or that you used the "paper of the day" on the layout.

So a very tiny percentage of scrappers are driving the industry and making many others feel inferior with their popcorn paper and family reunion pages. I believe this has contributed to the shrinking of the industry. There is a generation gap of sorts between "normal" scrappers who just want to get their photos on the paper and "life artists" who have to think deeply about every shot and photo and then spend hours creating the "Zen" page of deep thoughts and weird photos. Each to their own - there is no "right" way to scrap but when the smallest percentage makes it look like "everyone is doing it", then it becomes like the fashion magazines who give you the impression that if you aren't "Paris Hilton" thin, fabulous and blond, then you have no value as a human being.

The other surprise from the PMA research was the use of computers in scrapping. Now, this research was done in 2005 so I am SURE the percentage has increased since then, but it showed that 19% of scrappers had used a computer for at least SOME elements of their pages (probably journaling). But only 5% used their computer to create an ENTIRE album. Again, you'd think that digital scrapping was EVERYWHERE being done by EVERYONE. It's not. Even if that doubled to 10% in the last year, that's STILL the minority. As a retail consultant in the scrapbook industry, I still don't know if a traditional retailer should completely change the way they do business to cater to the 10% (or less) who are "all or nothing" digital scrappers (many of whom may never walk in their store). Yet, a LOT of ink is being given to digital scrapping in the trade magazines. Hybrid is where it's at for retailers. I am completely open-minded about retailers opening their businesses to digital scrappers (the "all digital - all the time" ones), but I just don't see the money following the small crowd - at least enough of it to make me buy 15 computers for my crop room.

I am not trying to be critical for criticism's sake. I am trying to understand this industry. We can't afford for people (the average scrapper) to get frustrated and leave due to an artficial inferiority complex created by a vocal minority with the right friends. We are not in the postition to create a "couture" atmosphere where we don't care if some can't afford that $5000 purse because if we sell 10 of them, it's all good. We aren't exlusive like that and never will be. Scrapping is a hobby for the masses. We need to stop acting like it's only for the "popular" girls and start helping people see in magazines and other places that it's okay to use the animal paper you bought 2 years ago after going to the zoo with your kids.

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