Sewing and crafting may sound like something only grandparents do—but think again. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households participate in at least one crafting hobby, with 45% involved in 5 or more creative hobbies. And Millennials are now the main generation crafting in the United States!
According to recent research from the Association for Creative Industries, the largest percentage of consumers in this $36 billion industry are Millennials at 41% while Gen X at 36% and Baby Boomers at 23% trail behind.
Brands are Starting to Take Notice of Millennial Crafters
One industry leader has taken the hint. Much like how many clothing and accessories stores have started offering interactive experiences, craft retail giant Joann is optimizing its stores for Millennial shoppers.
According to a recent Forbes article, Joann recently launched a Creator’s Studio space in their newest Columbus, OH store where both experienced crafters and newbies can learn new skills, take classes, rent machines, and gather together with friends and fellow crafters.
Joann doesn’t just offer the space for creativity. The company also has the technology to back it up. The concept store is enhanced with high-tech/high-touch features, like a Craft Creator touchscreen kiosk where customers can search Pinterest to discover new crafting projects and a Cut Bar where shoppers can check in with their chosen fabric then continue shopping until texted that their cut fabric is ready for pick up.
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Versus Online Retailers
Will other crafting retailers follow suit? “The industry is doing a terrible job of attracting new customers,” said 30-something sewing blogger Jennifer Moore, in an interview with Forbes. “They are still operating like it’s the 1970s or 1980s. They can’t expect to do the same things and get the same results.”
This is crucial for the crafting industry to note. If Millennial crafters can’t find the fabrics or supplies they’re looking for in a brick-and-mortar store, they won’t hesitate to order them online from any number of places.
“If you want to get people to shop in your store, you need to create an experience that is worth coming there for. Something that is Instagram worthy,” added Moore. “Shop owners are ignoring the needs of consumers who are under 40 years old. If you want people to start sewing you have to think about what they are looking for,” she said.
One thing is certain: Millennials have very different expectations than earlier generations. Only time will tell if other crafting industry leaders will adapt to the huge Millennial market, or if they’ll fall by the wayside in favor of online, direct-from-the-source suppliers.
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