Online E-Business Target Market & Competition
Identify Target Market
The target market for the online business is the Do-it-Yourself Arts and Crafts supplies industry, the “Hobby Craft Industry.”
Psychology of Target Market (Analysis)
The Hobby Craft market grew 11% in 2011, despite overall stagnation in consumer spending in the same year. (SEC Form S-1, p. 1). The recent expansion of the hobby craft industry has been caused by the recent economic downturn as well as demographic changes in the market. Hobby crafts were previously the exclusive domain of middle-aged and older women. However, young adults, male and female, have taken up hobby crafts such as knitting because of political movements emphasizing sustainable production as well as pop culture trends celebrating, in an ironic manner, vintage or handmade goods with character over mass-produced goods.
The hobby craft market is traditionally perceived as a leisure industry, with the hobby aspect being the main driver of consumer behavior. Hobbyists form the core of the crafts supplies market. Although they are typically restricted to one particular craft, they are likely to experiment as they acquire new skills in their hobby and require depth and variety within the narrow range of supplies that they use. Hobbyists typically possess some skill in making crafts and experience in finding and purchasing the supplies they need.
As a result of the recent economic downturn, the hobby craft market has been enhanced by consumers wishing to save money on desired goods that they would usually purchase from a retailer. Such consumers would substitute self-made crafts for non-necessity or luxury items such as hats, scarves, or jewelry. As they make crafts more out of economic necessity than a natural interest in the craft, they typically possess a lower amount of skill in making crafts than hobbyists and are less experienced in finding and purchasing the supplies they need. Such consumers will be concerned with cost and coverage, requiring at least introductory-level supplies in a broad range of particular crafts.
Finally, there are those who have turned their hobby into a business. These people typically start out making crafts for friends and family and later begin to sell such crafts to strangers who have heard of their quality by word-of-mouth. These consumers typically buy in large quantities and know what they are looking for, so they are primarily concerned with cost instead of selection. Because online retail enables fast and simple comparison of prices, these consumers may switch retailers for small price differences.
Part 1: Identify Competition
Michael’s Fabrics, Joann’s Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby, both their brick-and-mortar and online operations.
Part 1: Psychology of Competition (Analysis)
Michael’s Fabrics, Joann’s Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby are retail superstore chains which attempt to provide a wide selection of common craft supplies such as fabrics, needles, and threads for knitting. (SEC Form 10-K; SEC Form S-1) In fact, Michael’s and Joann’s both began as specialty fabrics stores before expanding into other crafts. Thus, as ubiquitous hobby crafts brands which have acquired all major competitors except each other, these companies are leveraging their brand recognition and bargaining power with suppliers to enter the online hobby crafts supplies industry. (SEC Form 10-K p. 5).
Among these three highly similar competitors, there have been only a few subtle attempts at product differentiation, mostly through acquisition of chain stores specializing in other crafts. Jo-Ann Fabrics, for example, added floral items in 1984. (Form 10-K). Michael’s Fabrics added art supplies and framing in 1995. (Form S-1). However, the vast majority of each store’s inventories remain virtually identical.
Part 2: Detailed Description of IMC Approach with Rationale
The Foundation – corporate image and brand management; buyer behavior; promotions opportunity analysis.
The corporate image will communicate passion, expertise, and depth of experience in a particular field of crafts. The brand marketing communications will emphasize the depth of selection and rare finds within a particular field(s) of crafts. It will target dedicated hobbyists whose needs cannot be fully met by the selection of crafts supplies available at superchain retailers such as Michael’s Fabrics and Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, which often offer standard, shallow, run-of-the-mill product selections, albeit across a large number of crafts.
Hobbyists take up a particular craft because of the joy of creation. This joy comes in large part because the craft product is a means of self-expression.
Robert’s recognizes the crucial role of the retailer in bringing the hobbyist’s ideas to life A hobbyist might have a particular idea or image that she wants to bring to life, and will often browse for crafts supplies enthusiastically, attempting to find the supplies to fit that image. However, the supplies retailer also plays an important role in the creative process because it essentially determines, with its current selection, what is possible for the hobbyist. Certain products may even spark new ideas for the hobbyist as she imagines how they could be put together.
It will also distribute samples of its most unique and appealing products at trade events as well as hobby and crafts classes. These samples will show hobbyists what they might be missing in their current shopping experience.
The store will reach customers through traditional channels such as print advertisements in trade publications. The store will also make use of online channels such as Facebook and Google’s Adwords in order to reach the dedicated hobbyists who are looking for specialized or uncommon crafts supplies.
Part 2: Message with Rationale
The store’s message is that “We serve the dedicated hobbyist who wants to make unique, sophisticated craft products. We are the hobby crafts store for the true craftsman, passionate and demanding. We are here to support hobbyists in their growth a craftsman and creators.”
The advertisements will use messages which point to the insufficiency of the current crafts hobby supply experience. For example, advertisements will pose “Can’t find what you need for your new crafts experiments? Check out Robert’s online crafts store, where we offer fabrics and decorations for the most demanding of crafstmen.” “You didn’t start knitting sweaters so that you could look like everyone else, did you?”
The message’s emphasis on the individualism and sophistication of the hobbyist craftsman highlights the major weakness of crafts superstore chains like Michael’s and JoAnn’s. It is in line with the product differentiation strategy that the online business will adopt in order to break into the online hobby crafts retail industry. It also appeals to the hobbyist’s pride in her skill in that particular craft
SEC Form 10-K 2011 Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.
Available at http://www.faqs.org/sec-filings/100415/JO-ANN-STORES-INC_10-K/#b
SEC Form S-1 Michael’s Fabrics
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