2023 Craft Retailer Research Results Part 2

2023 Craft Retailer Research Results Part 2

Welcome to the second post where we share information from the 2023 Craft Retailer Research Study. (Our first post on the study is here.)

What is the Craft Retailer Research Study?

If this is the first time you’re reading about the study, a bit of background may be helpful. Through April-May 2023, Stitchcraft (along with  BERNINA, The National Needlearts Association, and Creative Retailer) partnered with Audience Audit to study the state of the craft retail industry in 2023. 923 craft retail business owners responded, representing all 50 states (and even several international locations!) The survey responses were analyzed by the math wizards at Audience Audit. (If you’re a stats fanatic, you appreciate that the confidence level is 95% with a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.) 

The survey yielded a TON of insights that we’ll be sharing with the craft community. We’ll be done with the Executive Summary shortly; sign up if you’d like it delivered to your inbox as soon as it’s done. 

What kind of craft retailer are you?

In our last post on the research results, we introduced the four groups of craft business owners as gathered by their shared attitudes and experiences. We gave these groups names so we could better understand their perspectives:

  • Community Casey prioritizes building community through craft just as much as building their business. 
  • Confident Chris rates themselves highly across their products and processes- they feel great about their business. 
  • Worried Willa frets about their retail future due to many factors: changings retail landscape, influencer marketing, direct-to-consumer practices by manufacturers, and more.
  • Online Ollie has no hesitation about being online across platforms.

As we cover these groups and their attitudes, keep in mind two key points:

  1. These results are self-reported and reflect the perceptions and attitudes of the respondents.
  2. No segment was significantly more successful than the others. (While Confident Chris might sound like the biggest winner, we’re not suggesting that a Worried Willa needs to become a Chris to generate more revenue.) Each segment has its own successes and opportunities for growth.


Commonalities Among Profiles

While our groups were differentiated based on strong correlations in answers to questions, all craft retailers shared many attitudes.  

  • Over half of all respondents feel challenged marketing their business, attracting new customers, and growing their online business. 
  • Craft industry retailers expect 2023 revenue to be similar to 2022. 
  • 68% overall report an average customer spend of less than $100.

Customer Service is Our Strength

Integrity emerges as a core value across our groups. All personas rate their customer service very highly. 

  • 81% feel good about solving customer issues. 
  • 78% feel good about their customer service experience. 

However, just over half feel confident about understanding their customers’ pain points, and only 39% feel confident about their ability to upsell additional products. These issues hinder customer retention and business growth.

Shared Marketing Experiences

Because Stitchcraft is a craft-focused marketing agency, we were especially interested in how retailers report on their marketing practices and successes. 

  • More than half of all responders use several marketing tools, with social media marketing, business website, email marketing, and online store topping the list.
  • Social media marketing and websites are the most common tools, but retailers report email newsletters are most effective in generating sales.
  • Almost three quarters of respondents say creating a sense of community is important on some level, but only 54% say they feel they’re successful at it. 

Common Solutions

Survey responders report these steps help strengthen their business:

  • Hiring a business coach (89% of Confident Chris respondents endorse working with a coach, versus 40% of Worried Willas).
  • Scheduling in-person events and workshops to create meaningful connections and provide learning opportunities.
  • Being intentional about product sourcing to ensure quality and reliability.
  • Developing specialized offerings for customers to encourage loyalty. 
  • Investing in technology that improves operations (implementing a POS system to improve the customer experience, inventory management, and create data analysis opportunities).
  • Publishing a newsletter and leveraging social media platforms can help drive engagement and growth. Consistent messaging is key.

Our Recommendations

To address the issues faced by retailers across profiles, we have several recommendations for you to consider:

Go Beyond Customer Service

Since most retailers are confident about nurturing customer relationships through top-notch service, it’s time to think about what else you need to be doing really well. 

  • Understanding customer behavior through the use of data
  • Understand your customer avatar (you may have several avatars)
  • Design your product offerings around what they need, not necessarily what you like. 

View Video as your Opportunity!

Video and audio marketing options are under-utilized by all segments. Just 38% of respondents are using videos as part of their online mix. This is a missed opportunity to share beautiful projects and materials. (We all love ooh-ing and aah-ing over stunning WIPs and completed projects.) 

Only 5% are using podcasts—if you’re looking to nurture your own connections while growing your community, invite your peers, contacts, influencers, and makers to join you in conversations. This can lead their followers to you. 

Start simply- you do not need polish to put your business out there for greater attention and reach. 


What steps can you take to mitigate your biggest worries?

If you find yourself identifying with one of these groups more than the others, we have some tailored advice for each group. These are high-impact steps you can take to build your business and your confidence. 

Worried Willa 

  • Hire a business Coach or Consultant
  • Expand your comfort zone with marketing initiatives—prioritize video, beautiful photos and consistent graphics

Online Ollie

  • Strategically evaluate your online presence—are you putting your time into the most effective platforms and tactics?
  • How are you helping people know, like, and trust you? 

Confident Chris

  • Buttress your confidence with ongoing professional and business development
  • Protect your creative time; delegate tasks to trusted professionals

Community Casey

  • Diversify the ways you build community around crafts
    • Offer more in-person classes and events
    • Cultivate a consistent, active social media presence (including—you guessed it—video!)


Sign Up to Learn More

In our first post on the research results, we went into detail on the four craft retailer profiles identified by the study. Revisit that post if you want to read more about Community Casey, Confident Chris, Worried Willa, and Online Ollie. 

If these posts have you thinking about how to improve your business, you’ll benefit from learning more about your strengths and opportunities for growth. Sign up to receive the Executive Summary of these research as soon as it’s available.

2023 Research findings presentation


If you’d like some help thinking about your next steps in light of this research, reach out to us! Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started! 

Meagan Rodgers
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