Crafts Council: The Market for Craft Report
02 June 2020 by Ed
Who is buying craft, why and where. The new report will help makers to develop their businesses, understanding in much greater depth who their consumers are and what drives their appreciation of craft.
MARKET FOR CRAFT REPORT LAUNCHED
Commissioned by Crafts Council and partners
Using survey findings from consumers in the UK and two US cities, as well as makers and intermediaries supporting craft businesses, the report shows how craft sales are worth £3bn to the UK economy and that there is a growing new generation of younger craft consumers. The report will help makers to develop their businesses, understanding in much greater depth who their consumers are and what drives their appreciation of craft.
The report shows that:
- Online platforms have fuelled growth: in December 2018, Etsy reported that there were 220,000 active sellers in the UK with a further 9,000 makers on Folksy. 10.3m of us are now buying craft online. However, the majority still prefer to buy in-person
- Jewellery is the most popular craft discipline to purchase by volume (7.3m objects). But glass and metal are also growing.
The proliferation of face-to-face craft selling channels – particularly craft fairs and markets – has also increased popular interest in craft. Just as platforms like Etsy and Folksy have brought craft to a new online audience, so too has the rise in craft fairs and markets brought craft to more people face-to-face with enterprises such as Crafty Fox (London) and Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (Sheffield) not in existence a decade ago.
The report was undertaken by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre in partnership with Arts Council of Wales, Contemporary Visual Arts Network, Craft Northern Ireland, Craft Scotland, Creative Scotland, Creative United, The Goldsmiths’ Company and Great Northern Events/Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. The third in our historical analyses of the market for craft, the report describes a significant shift in patterns of consumption as craft becomes more mainstream.
The first report to identify and gauge appetite for British craft for over a decade reveals our passion for craft has never been greater – 73% of UK adults had bought craft in 2019 – snapping up almost 25 million handcrafted objects. In a significant shift, almost a third (32%) of today’s buyers are aged under 35 – making this demographic the biggest buyer of craft today.
The report was implemented by the Crafts Council and eight leading national partners* (among 5,000 UK residents, 1,500 US citizens and 1,700 professional makers and implemented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has subsequently been layered with a further Crafts Council survey carried out among 573 UK-based makers post lockdown.
The maturing of the craft market in the UK can be attributed to a number of wider trends that are likely to accelerate as a result of the pandemic – the rise of e-commerce, investment purchases over throwaway objects, and an interest in sustainability and supporting small businesses.
10.3m Brits are buying craft online - a figure that has more than tripled over the last decade. However, the report also showed that the majority of British adults still prefer to buy objects in-person.
The export potential for the UK craft sector is highlighted - 2.5m people in New York and 1.7m in Los Angeles have purchased craft from a UK-based maker, but a further 6.9m across the two locations said that they would be likely to buy UK craft in the future. This represents a sizeable untapped market for exports.
The current pandemic has highlighted the growing craft trend – the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee has shifted to a prime-time BBC TV slot and attracts audiences of close to 5 million5, and sellers of craft supplies for the domestic market are seeing a surge in sales. With 20% of British consumers indicating that they would pay to attend a craft workshop, it is no surprise that such a significant number of people are turning to online tutorials and craft kits to learn a new skill while they have more time at home.
Rosy Greenlees the executive director of the Crafts Council: “The report provides valuable evidence to understand more about how best to stimulate, support and grow the craft market: who’s buying craft, what they’re buying and why, how big the market is, how routes to market are changing, and what kind of infrastructure can best support it. Our first step will be translating the findings into actionable learnings for the craft sector, helping them build a richer picture of different consumers and their habits and interests in order to help grow sales. While the growth in the market is encouraging, the picture is not all positive. A quarter of makers are facing a negative impact from Brexit on their business, and many makers will be in a precarious situation in a post-pandemic world – losing not only their opportunities to sell their work, but also other sources of income – for example, teaching and hosting workshops.”
- The under 35-year-old craft buying market has grown by 32% since 2006
- 10.3m of us are buying craft online - a figure that has more than tripled over the last decade. However, the majority of people still prefer to buy in-person
- Online platforms have fuelled much of this growth: in December 2018, Etsy reported that there were 220,000 active sellers in the UK with a further 9,000 makers on Folksy
- Jewellery is the most popular craft discipline to purchase by volume, but glass and metal have seen the most sizeable growth since 20066
- 85% of Americans surveyed would buy a piece of craft compared with 88% here in the UK. 28% have bought from a UK maker and 59% would consider doing so - pointing to considerable potential for growth. There are 10.5m untapped, potential consumers living in New York and LA.