Nov 8, 2007

Beginners: the Heart Beat of the Industry

How many cameras do you have? I have 5 including my video camera. Three of the others are digital cameras. And, I assume we have a few of those disposable ones laying around that the kids have half-used.

Yes, I am a scrapbooker and photos are important. But, how many NON-scrapping households have at least ONE camara? Probably 99%.

One news report says that today's kids are the most documented ever! With over 60% of households owning a digital camera, photos are being snapped like there's no tomorrow. Gone are the days when you think twice before snapping more than one photo because you knew you had to pay to have it developed. I push the shutter with abandon when I'm in "action" mode - trying to get the perfect shot of one of my sons playing soccer.

In the late 90's the scrapbook industry grew quickly because hundreds of thousands of women discovered the craft. We couldn't open stores or produce new products quickly enough. Then, when everyone had bought the complete set of EK Success letter punches and all the deco scissors ever made, we slowed down and moved into paper-collector mode. We had the tools, we just needed the materials. Now, we have TOO MANY materials and are drowning in paper so we slowed our buying habits even further. The result has been a blood-bath for the industry. First the retailers and lately, many manufacturers, packed their paper and went home.

There's a lesson in all this. With nearly every U.S. household owning a camera and only 4.5% of women scrapping, that's a LARGE pool of people we're missing. And, what happens when you show a mom with 10,000 photos how she can preserve the memories along with the photos through scrapbooking? She runs out and buys all those tools - the paper trimmers, the scissors, the adhesives, the punches, the die-cut machines, the pens, etc. that the rest of us already have. Then she moves into "collector" mode. The cycle that we already went through is repeated by her. But, as Mary Kay Ash said, "A laurel, when rested upon, wilts". We can't say, "Hey, she's a scrapbooker, great!" and stop reaching out. We need to run out and find the next person to bring in. THAT is where this industry failed. We failed to reach out to anyone who didn't stumble upon scrapbooking on their own. Then we moved, en masse, together away from the simple scrapping and towards the very overwhelming (to a newbie) "life artist" mode where each page should look like it's worthy of publishing, take 5 days and cost $25. It doesn't exactly look enticing to someone who's never CUT one of her photos, let alone glued it to paper.

So, we MUST turn back to the beginners. THEY will continue to fuel the industry with their large "start-up" purchases. They have a spending spike in the beginning, move into collector mode on the down beat and then jump into the long tail that the rest of us are in. We continue to make purchases, but at a slow and steady rate that doesn't really do much but maintain the industry.

We MUST begin at the beginning again and turn back the clock in order to remain healthy. So, how do we do that and where do we begin?? Perhaps advertising in non-scrapping magazines. I subscribe to LDS Living that has a pretty large circulation in the U.S. among Latter-Day Saints. They are one of the most avid preservers of family history. Yet, I have only ever seen ONE scrapbook company advertise in their magazine - a wholesaler. Family Fun magazine is another place I rarely see scrapbook advertisements. Women's Day, Real Simple, Family Circle, etc. All those are magazines read by women who have cameras and photographs. Why are we wasting our money advertising (at a similar cost) ONLY in scrapbook magazines? Is the response REALLY that good?

Something to think about...


WeB TooLz said...

Now anyone can do scrapbooking online @ (upload photo, choose free template, print)

Ali said...

Hey Kim - thanks for a really interesting post.

One comment I have is in regards to this, "towards the very overwhelming (to a newbie) "life artist" mode where each page should look like it's worthy of publishing, take 5 days and cost $25" - that is not what thinking of yourself as a "life artist" is all about at all. Rather, it is about embracing imperfections, focusing on the photos and the story, and not making things so complicated when creating projects and layouts.

It is more of a creative philosophy than a result.

I completely agree about getting back to the basics: photos + words. We also need to focus on education - teaching new scrapbookers how to deal with their photos, write their stories, incorporate creativity, and make sure they are not too busy capturing everything that they miss the actual experience of living.

Kim Guymon said...

I have a different definition of "life artist". It's the scrapper who get overly wrapped up in the Zen of scrapping and the philosophies behind every photo. As stated in an earlier post, most of us just want to glue the photos down and journal. We don't care about the philosophies of each moment and the large close-up shots faces. I have 200 soccer photos to catch up on - slap 'em down, get the kids' names right on each photo and move on...

Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

Yes, "Life Artist" is a creative philosophy. And it's one that is wholeheartedly embraced by a noticeable segment of the industry. Nobody is 'dissing' the life artists here!

Its also a creative evolution - one that new and 'creatively timid' scrapbookers do not understand. For a huge, unforgotten segment of the industry, scrapbooking IS about results. It is less about the process and more about just getting pages done.

For some reason, "stick it down and move on" is a creative philosophy that currently the movers and shakers of the industry are looking down their noses at. Why is that? Creatively 'timid' people just want their pages to look good and don't want to stress about the process. They are willing to pay for solutions that make scrapbooking faster, simpler and less stressful. Sometimes a soccer picture is just a soccer picture. No philosophy degree required. :)