Demand in the gift industry for handmade goods has risen exponentially in the last few years, changing the landscape of the retail industry, both high street and shopping centre stores and online platforms. An increasing number of accessible e-commerce platforms has lead to consumers having a greater desire to own handmade items, and have direct contact with the designers and 'makers/artisans' who produce them. Consumers are appreciating the value of owning things that are not mass produced, and in turn enjoying the interactions with people as opposed to organisations who have little or no knowledge as to the actual manufacturing of the items. An increase in interest as to how things are made, restored and even the history of manufacturing is reaching as far as online viewing, which in turn is leading to a shift in appreciation of how long handmade items take to make, how much investment of time and focus goes into each piece and how the value of such goods is greater than mass produced items.
Monica Orrigo's article below published on 'Handshake' outlines some of the drivers and impacts of the shifting consumer trends....... Monica goes on to say.....
'AWARENESS AND ACCESS DRIVES INTEREST
The most important reason behind the rise in popularity in handmade goods is simply access. Not so long ago, consumers were basically forced to buy what was available at stores in their area. Most people did not have access to unique handmade gift items unless they lived in or traveled to the areas where the goods were made and bought them directly from the makers. Now, with e-commerce sites that connect consumers directly to the artisans and craftspeople that make handmade items, lifestyle blogs that promote designers and artisans, as well as the ability to ship nearly anywhere by air, ground or sea transportation relatively quickly and cheaply, consumers can learn about and access fine, handmade gifts much more easily. Social media and the Internet also make it easier for makers themselves to directly access their target markets.
CONSUMERS’ DESIRE TO CONNECT WITH MAKERS
Another reason behind the trend is the desire for a human connection. People like to know that the products they bought were made by a real person––that the products they’re spending money on have a sense of authenticity attached to them. Many companies have sprung up to meet this inherent human desire, directly connecting makers with consumers. Today, even mass-market retailers and wholesalers often incorporate storytelling about product origins into their marketing, allowing consumers to learn more about the people and communities that make the products.
CONSUMER DESIRE FOR QUALITY AND UNIQUENESS
Handmade items are often perceived to be higher quality than mass-produced items. Whether or not this is true, marketers often play on this perception when marketing these goods to consumers, reinforcing established beliefs about the value of handmade goods. In addition, when it comes to gift giving, consumers enjoy being able to give items that are unique, special and memorable. Handmade gift items are believed to be special, something that only a fortunate few people will ever own.
CONSUMER DESIRE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are several factors that play into this aspect of the trend towards handmade goods – environmental concerns, along with the ability to make a difference in the lives of makers by providing them opportunities to be paid for meaningful work, is very attractive to consumers. They enjoy the idea of being able to make a difference in other people’s lives simply by purchasing items they likely would have bought anyway. When they are able to do this while also addressing environmental concerns such as the desire to reduce the consumer’s overall carbon footprint, then purchasing handmade goods is a very attractive option. Handmade goods created by human beings outside of a factory environment seem more environmentally conscious to many consumers, and in many cases may be.
WHAT THE HANDMADE TREND MEANS FOR THE GIFT INDUSTRY Rather than thinking of this trend as a threat, the gift industry should think of the handmade trend as an opportunity. For gift industry brands that are already selling those unique gift items, we recommend continuing to develop relationships with makers and finding new sources for those unique gift items.'