THE REVIVAL OF VINYL – AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR HANDMADE
Vinyl, as in vinyl albums, has been coming back for several years now. It’s still growing. As stated by Forbes, sales in the US in 2017 were $730 million, compared to $87 million in 2010. In Canada, ”vinyl records enjoyed a surge of 66.6 percent” between 2017 and 2018, according to Nielsen.
The revival of vinyl is not about people being retro. In fact, it has little to do with the past. Instead it points to a growing trend among consumers that offers makers and artisans a great opportunity.
People who buy vinyl are fascinated by the entire experience of owning vinyl. It starts with searching for that oh-so-very-special album. Once in hand, the vinyl aficionado will pause to take in the cover art, followed by carefully sliding the disc out of its sleeve. Then it will be gently placed onto the turn-table. The needle sinks into the first groove. Magic happens. Vinyl lovers ignore the physical limitations of the medium on which their music is captured. They are not just buying the tunes; they are buying the experience of it all.
The consumers’ desire for experiential value transcends the music industry. It reflects a much larger growth trend in the creative industry. According to Quartz, a global economy monitor, the revenue of the creative industry in the US alone reached $43.9 billion in 2017. This is a 45% increase compared to 2011.
Artisans are in a fabulous position to add experiential value for their customers. We can engage our customers’ senses. Touch sound, smell, taste, and sight can all be enlisted to give consumers the special experience they value. Think about the materials you use for your creations. Their texture, temperature or colour or weight speaks to consumers. Coarse burlap sends a different message than silky smooth sateen. The right lighting in your jewelry showcase makes your work sparkle with mystery or exclusivity. An elegant display of your hand made soap can conjure up a tone of sumptuousness and luxury! Artisans can sculpt the experiences so that they are just right for their specific target market segments.
Second, artisans can add experiential value by drawing consumers into their maker world. The most effective way to do this is through story-telling. It has been in our cultural memory for eons. People have always loved stories. Story-telling is so powerful that it can actually affect the physiology of the brain. It is a proven motivator that can compel people not only toward emotion, but - more importantly - toward action.
There are many ways in which artisans can make use of storytelling. It can be integrated into digital marketing (Webpage, Facebook, Instagram) and classic marketing (business cards, store displays, other printed promotional materials). Share with customers the story of your business, the passion that drives you. Share with them parts of your creative process, your success stories, or how people have benefitted from your work. Just keep it honest, real, and authentic.
A third way of creating experiential value is through face-to-face and person-to-person interaction. Even as digital (mobile) technology advances, consumers are rediscovering the immense value of face-to-face interaction. Some online sellers have already recognized this trend. Amazon and smaller businesses such as Frank & Oak, Bonobos, or Warby Parker are going from clicks to bricks.
Artisan businesses are extremely well positioned to capitalize on our need for human connection and use it to grow and “own” their customer base. The traditional artisan retail venue of arts and craft shows is a classic example; as long as you don’t hide wordlessly behind your display table or disappear to the far back corner of your booth. Beyond that, there is a plethora of other, less conventional places for face-to-face interaction. Pop-ups, micro-space rentals, short-term (retail) space leases, trunk-shows or retail co-ops are great places for forging the experiential value that consumers seek.
The explosion of vinyl is real. It is a beacon of changing consumer trends. People do like to click and stream. At the same time, many don’t want to just listen to what they bought. They want to experience it. They want to touch, feel, smell, and see. What an opportunity for artisans and makers to build and grow!