May 8, 2008

A Snapshot of the State of the Industry

We are having a discussion at ScrapBiz right now about traditional scrapping versus digital scrapping. We are basically trying to figure out how it all fits together for industry retailers. We've been trying to hammer this out for well over a year. Some are looking for ways to profit from digital scrapbooking while others have said they will stick a fork in their eye before they will ever add digital to their business (okay, I embellished a bit...). It's a great "meeting of the minds". I love a good discussion!

Anyway, as I sat at my crop night last weekend with my laptop in front of me, trying to finish my Rocket Life book, I found myself sitting in what I believe is a microcosm of the greater scrapbook industry. There were about 8 of us there. One had NEVER scrapped before but had the supplies to get started. Another had barely started and was making maybe her second page. I was scrapping on my laptop for the most part. One was making cards because she doesn't scrap but is a paper crafter. The others had paper flying as they furiously scrapped - they were seasoned scrappers who were experts in the art of cropping.

I actually didn't open my laptop for about 45 minutes. I was helping the new scrapper get started. But, when I did, three women said, "What are you doing??" They wandered over and watched me work on my book. Then they asked to see the preview of it. Then they all wanted the website...

Sitting to my left were 2 women who said, "I'll never do digital - I sit in front of my computer all day and I don't want to scrap at it!" And then to my right were the two brand new scrappers happily chopping photos and card stock.

So, in our little microcosm of the scapbook universe we had:

  • 2 hard-core paper scrappers who will NEVER go digital
  • 3 who were paper scrapping but discovered digital that night and will probably dabble in it a bit. I assume at least one will drop traditional scrapping altogether and go 100% digital.
  • Me - the bi-scraptual person who does both digital and traditional
  • 2 brand new traditional paper scrappers (1 of whom said, "I'd like to try digital in the future")
All we were missing is the woman who does ONLY digital to have made our universe complete.

I couldn't help but think that this is how the industry looks. A few new ones (not NEARLY enough, though), a few hard-core scrappers who love to get their "hands dirty", and a few who do both types.

I think that's been part of our problem. Some traditional scrappers discover digital and it changes their scrapping and buying habits and they largely disappear from traditional retail businesses. But, then, we don't invite enough new scrappers in to replace the loss. We also lose a few through burn-out and pretty soon, we're asking, "Where is everybody??"

I know I keep beating this drum, but we've GOT to help people get started scrapbooking! And, that means reaching outside of our opt-in email list. As I said in our discussion at ScrapBiz today, instead of saying, "Hey, let me show you how COOL scrapbooking is!", we say, "Cool! A new customer!" We wait around until women (and men) discover the hobby on their own rather than reaching out to introduce them to it first.

I would love to see someone in the industry start a campaign to introduce scrapbooking. It can be done through community education programs, the schools and other community organizations and events. I'm not talking about "Craft Month", but a specific effort to show people how great it is to turn their photos into something their family can enjoy through scrapbooking!

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