Marketing Nuggets

Ramakrishnan, Shilpa runs a company called VShilpa Education Services that is involved both in the handicraft sector where it provides provide business skills and in the broader education sector providing creative , academic and soft skills. She has in the past worked in organisations of repute like Shoppers Stop, Welspun Retail, TATA Group and Career Launcher. Her interests lie in working with artisans at the grass root level , children and young adults.

Marketing Nuggets

Part 1 Ė Getting Started

The best part about starting a business in art and craft is the passion involved. Artists are doing what they like and therefore there is no dearth in passion and hence drive.

There are lean times and if you do not love what you do you will be lacking stamina in carrying it forward.

Just like every marketing plan involves the 4 essential Pís Product, Price, Place, Promotion lets try and superimpose them on craft products of course not surpassing the most important factor Ė Competition

Right Product
Although beautiful it is very essential to design and manufacture a product that is commercially viable. Therefore it is imperative that product market is well researched before going ahead. If a craft technique is being applied on a certain product the utility, size, color preferences are best studied before hand.

For example a kantha embroidery done on a cushion cover will be more saleable if done on a 16*16 cushion which is the standard size. Use of non toxic colors in baby products , break resistance in products of increased usage , fine craftsmanship are just some of the examples. Right Price
Deciding how to price your products is an important decision.. the following things need to be taken into consideration while pricing products.

Determine Labour Cost: craftsperson paid per hour to produce products * the number of hours a week that will be spent on producing crafts

Determine Product Cost

Determine Overheads

Determine Margins

Total Product Cost = A + B + C

Compare this to the cost of similar product in the market . If your cost is high then the costs need to be looked into maybe by cutting hourly rate, finding less expensive supplies. .If you have under priced then based on the difference you could tweak the margins and consider raising your price.

There are many methods of pricing. I shall try and cover the same in my next article

Right place
Attending Small shows and exhibiting in the local exhibitions would be the most reasonable way to know response to your craft. Your craft may be beautiful but it might not be able to invoke the same response from different consumer groups.

You could jot down comments and responses which will give you a feel of your product standing in the market. These would help you to sense the market and hence customize your product accordingly.

Other channels could include
  • Retail stores selling similar family of products.

  • Online Avenues

  • Organization , clubs etc.

  • Consignment shops

  • Local gift shops

Right Promotion
Promotion of crafts depends upon the promoterís budget. It could be either above the line promotion (advertisements in newspapers, radio etc) or below the line promotion (pamphlets, leaflets, etc)

Competition analysis
Today the markets are flooded with products from various parts of the world. Also there are locally manufactured products which are cheaper and hence enjoy popularity. Manufactured items enjoy economy of scale and can be made with relatively lesser expense and hence could be less expensive. However not everything that is cheap sells. There are certain other attributes that a product needs to have which can help it thrive in the business world.

  • Quality

  • One of the most important attributes of a product and hence should never be compromised. Superior workmanship, good quality of supplies will ensure good quality of product which not will ensure sales but also goodwill in the long run.

  • Service

  • Service sounds like a big word but starts small. A simple smile, a warm greeting can help a long way in establishing a rapport with your customer whose response to your product is of primary importance.
  • Uniqueness

  • This is one area where you can beat the corporate world hands down. Craft is in itself a USP (unique selling proposition). It offers a emotional connect which many manufactured items may not be able to compete with. The design element , the colors , the techniques that are used by a craftsperson are unbeatable . No machine or manufactured product can offer what a handcrafted product can.

  • Price

  • Today consumers realize the value of craft and when it is combined with uniqueness quality and service it becomes a product to reckon with. High quality, hand made products is cherished world over and can demand a premium.

    Thus Craft is special and the same needs to be communicated through right marketing efforts. If the finer points in the selling process are looked into it will soon be a product which will race ahead and the craft world will find a new entity.

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