Gettin’ crafty with it

Spurred by a revival of interest in knitting and the increasing popularity of scrapbooking, crafting is booming. The Craft & Hobby Association trade group values the entire craft and hobby industry, which covers everything from card-making supplies to needlework tools and accessories, at $30.6 billion.

The arts and crafts catalog market consists of mailers selling patterns, supplies, kits, how-to books, software, and notions for active, hands-on hobbyists. For the first quarter of 2006, the names of 1.73 million 12-month buyers of these catalogs were available for rental or exchange, according to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera. This universe has remained fairly steady over the past two years, gaining 7.6% since the first quarter of 2004.

Because the buyer files of major craft retailers such as Michaels and Jo-Ann Stores are not included in this universe study, the arts and crafts catalog set accounts for just about 1% of all 12-month consumer catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange. Mailers whose lists are on the market range from specialized niche lists such as beading catalog Enterprise Art and dollhouse accessories book Hobby Builders Supply to well-known brands such as Annie’s Attic from Dynamic Resource Group (DRG), a publisher of numerous hobby magazines. Annie’s Attic is in fact the arts and crafts catalog with the largest 12-month buyers file — 248,000 names.

Among the major gainers in the category, the list size of Crafts Americana’s Knit Picks tripled during the past year, gaining 37,000 names to reach 55,000 names. Paper Wishes’ house file increased 89%, growing by 26,000 names since the first quarter of 2005.

One out of every four catalogs received in the arts and crafts niche so far this year has included at least one incentive, up moderately from 22% in 2005. This increase has been driven by an upswing in use of both free shipping and deferred payment usage. To date this year, free shipping has been used in 22% of in-category mailings, and discounts used in 8% of catalogs, rising from the respective 18% and 3% usage rates observed last year.

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