Friday, August 24, 2012

Niche Market/Saturation

threading the first warp for A Good Yarn: Rayon

First sample woven

It seems my days are getting more and more disrupted this week - first clinic visits which were supposed to happen last week and got moved to this week, then a family event tomorrow that never got put onto my calendar and therefore fell right off my radar.  So my plan to work on the Seattle guild program will have to move to Sunday.  Oh, well.

All I managed to do yesterday was thread the first of the AGY:R samples and weave the first bit to see how I liked it.  And I do.  Like it, I mean.  Well enough that I may do a short run of this cloth as scarves/shawls if I can squeeze that into my schedule before the sales in November.  I'm such an optimist!

One of the realities of trying to earn an income by weaving cloth is that you are appealing to a niche market.  A very tiny niche, at that.  What happens is that the market for one's designs can very quickly become saturated so that if you don't keep bringing new designs to the marketplace, sales stall.

It is so very easy to get seduced into repeating a well selling item over and over and then watch as your sales begin to droop, then sag, then become so small it isn't worth while doing the shows you've always been doing with the same designs you've always had success with.

As soon as a weaver/designer sees sales beginning to fall off it is imperative that new designs are begun.

One of the traps that can open up under one's feet is that of pricing product so low that sales are going gang-busters - so much so that there is no time for new design/product development because all available time is being poured into production.  Then when sales sag, there is no time for designing and all of a sudden, there are no sales at all.

How do I know this?  As you might guess, it happened to me.  And the result when sales finally dried up was not pretty.

One way to cope with drooping sales in a market is to find a new market.  Another way is to increase prices.  This strategy is called 'scarcity pricing' - in other words, make a small niche even smaller so that you sell fewer items but make more per item.  This can free up time for designing and perfecting new designs.

There are customers who can become 'fans' and will continue to buy new designs just because they like your designs and are willing to start a collection.  For instance I've been told there is one lady in my home town who recently bought her 12th Laura Fry scarf.  :)  But in order to keep her buying a 13th or 14th, that means I must bring new designs to the marketplace or there will be no incentive for her to keep adding to her collection.

Currently reading Until the Night by Giles Blunt


ACL Studio and Gallery said...

Great Post! Not everyone thinks of the bigger marketing picture, but just makes what they want when they want...Variety can be the spice of life!

Anonymous said...

If the majority of your sales are to repeat customers, do you think it would help to market certain items like scarves and shawls by season and/or in limited editions? Like the scarves you're weaving for holiday sales now: Do you think if you tagged them as "2012," people might be more inclined to buy because they know the scarf is newly created, just for this year, etc? With your dish towels, do you think if people knew that the particular colors and weave would "never be repeated," they might tend to buy more, or more often? There's a certain cachet in having something that was made in very limited quantities; it can add a dimension of the appeal of exclusivity to an item, but I don't know whether that would be something you'd find in handwovens buyers. ???

Laura Fry said...

I haven't tried marketing my things as limited editions. It might be worthwhile giving it a go. :)