2023 Craft Retailer Research Results Part 1

2023 Craft Retailer Research Results Part 1

What is the Craft Retailer Research Study?

Earlier this spring, you may have seen an invitation to participate in a survey of craft retailers. Stitchcraft Marketing, along with BERNINA, The National Needlearts Association, and Creative Retailer, partnered with Audience Audit, a third-party research company specializing in attitudinal segmentation for agencies, to create a study that would reflect the state of the craft retail industry in 2023. Now that summer is here, we’ve had time to analyze the results. We’re so excited to share these findings with the craft community!

At Stitchcraft, our mission is to raise all boats in the craft industry by supporting individual businesses and the industry as a whole. We believe in this industry as a way to make a living and make a life; we hope this information can help you enact your business goals.

The survey yielded a TON of insights that we’ll be sharing over the next few months. 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.

Read on to learn more about the first major insight.

Survey Response

During April and May 2023, 923 craft retail business owners responded to our survey. The responses were evenly spread across the Midwest, South, and West, with a somewhat smaller response from the Northeast.

The response was huge– more than twice what we projected we’d need in order to gather meaningful results. (So THANK YOU if you were one of our responders!) The strong response means we can be confident that our results apply broadly. (If you’re a stats fanatic, you’ll want to know that the confidence level is 95% with a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.)

Craft Retailers Grouped by Common Attitudes

As the statistical wizards at Audience Audit analyzed the 923 responses, they found four segments of responders who share a common set of attitudes across questions. These attitudinal segments aren’t related to demographic categories; instead, they are based on the attitudes reflected in the responses to the questions.

To better relate to the strengths and concerns of each group, we gave each segment name: 

  • Community Prioritizers (prioritize building community as much as building their business) became Community Casey.
  • Confident Succeeders (rate themselves highly across their products and processes) became Confident Chris.
  • Threatened Worriers (fret about their retail future due to various circumstances) became Worried Willa.
  • Online Embracers (experience no hesitation about being online across platforms) became Online Ollie

As we cover these characters 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 statistically 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.)


Community Casey

Community Casey believes in the importance of personal relationships, community, and supporting small businesses. While Casey may not currently feel a strong sense of community, they actively desire to cultivate one. Casey shows a greater inclination towards selling patterns, kits, tools, organizing group events, and offering private lessons. These preferences align with Casey’s commitment to fostering a sense of community and providing resources and opportunities for others to explore creative outlets.

Casey’s Biggest Challenges

Casey faces several significant business challenges. They see marketing and attracting new customers as the largest hurdle, with 63% of respondents finding it a difficult task. Another obstacle is reaching out to younger customers, with 46% finding it challenging to engage this demographic. These challenges highlight the importance for Casey to develop effective marketing strategies, foster connections with potential customers, and explore innovative approaches to attract and engage a broader range of individuals, including younger audiences.


Confident Chris

Confident Chris stands out among other segments as they are highly likely to rate their business positively across factors. They excel in areas such as product quality, customer retention, attracting new customers, revenue generation, product/service selection, uniqueness of products, manufacturer relationships, and staying up-to-date with trends. However, it’s important to note that Chris’s business may not necessarily generate dramatically higher revenue compared to other segments. 

Chris feels like they are CRUSHING it with marketing; they’re more likely to feel confident with branding (60%) and marketing skills (though all segments show plenty of room for growth). Moreover, Chris is inclined to believe that their business is distinct from others, with 52% affirming that their business is definitively different. These characteristics reflect Chris’s self-assuredness and their ability to effectively market their business, leading to a sense of success and uniqueness in the marketplace.

Chris’ Biggest Challenges

Chris reports their biggest challenges relate to employee hiring, training, and retention. 


Worried Willa

Worried Willa has several concerns about the ever-evolving industry landscape. Willa firmly believes that manufacturers and distributors should step up their support for retailers, as they see the growing trend of selling directly to consumers and collaborating with influencers as detrimental to retailers’ success. Willa is often hesitant to embrace the power of social media by creating engaging posts and insightful blogs. Worried Willa also suffers from analysis paralysis; with multiple approaches to explore, they become paralyzed and opt for making no moves at all.  

Willa’s Biggest Challenges

Willa sees significant challenges impacting their business. A staggering 87% of Worried Willas report suffering a moderate to severe impact from the direct-to-consumer model. Additionally, 48% of these businesses identify the growing presence of large online craft retailers as a hurdle they must navigate. Willa is also grappling with changing consumer preferences influenced by craft influencers. Surprisingly, only 58% of Willas have a website, leaving a significant portion of potential customers untapped. 


Online Ollie

Online Ollie is a unique player in the business landscape with some fascinating statistics. Only 40% of Ollies have a brick & mortar location. Ollies are often solopreneurs making their own goods for sale—pattern designers are a great example of this type of retailer. 54% say direct-to-consumer has little impact on their business model or doesn’t apply to them at all. 

Ollie’s Biggest Challenges

The top challenges for Ollie revolve around online sales and marketing strategies. 67% of Online Ollies identify marketing as a major challenge, highlighting the competitive landscape and the need for effective promotional tactics. Additionally, 66% of businesses struggle with growing their online sales, reflecting the ongoing complexity of capturing and retaining customers in the digital realm. Furthermore, nearly half of these businesses find developing an online presence to be a challenging endeavor, emphasizing the importance of establishing a strong online brand identity. Online sales and marketing are Ollie’s greatest challenges.


Sign Up to Learn More

As you read our profiles, you probably found yourself identifying with one group more than the others. By taking this simple step, you can be clearer in your challenges and where to focus your efforts toward long term stability and success. What next?

As mentioned earlier, we have LOTS more to share about each profile. We’re preparing an Executive Summary with more details. Sign up and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox when it’s ready.

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
1 Comment
  • Alexis Marie
    Posted at 03:01h, 30 August Reply

    Your research insights shed a spotlight on the diverse personas within the craft retail landscape. “Community Casey” embodies the spirit of connection, “Confident Chris” navigates success with marketing prowess, “Worried Willa” grapples with evolving trends, and “Online Ollie” tackles the digital realm. Your findings provide a compass for industry players to hone strategies and foster growth.

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