Professional Mentor #1

Today I met with Kate Day, director of the Manchester Craft & Design centre, to discuss my Final Major Project ideas and research. I asked her a number of questions regarding the current craft market in order to gain insight into my target market. Her advice was really valuable and made me question the feasibility of some of my rough ideas.

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I firstly asked Kate what the demographics of the Manchester Craft Centre customers are to see how this compared to the research I have done? She said that generally 60% of customers are female, although the reports I had looked at were now a few years old and she felt the size of the craft market had somewhat changed. There is now more demand for craft, but also the audience now appeals to younger people. Customers are looking to engage themselves with craft, they are looking for products and ways they themselves can make craft and be involved.  Hopefully this should mean there is a market for my work as I am interested in creating a product which the user participates in either constructing or modifying.

I also asked, in her opinion, why do people choose by buy craft products? Kate said she felt the socio-economic climate has an effect on the craft market and currently we were going through a period of time where people were looking to buy hand crafted items. When consuming, people are trying to move away from the mass market and more towards craft product, seeking uniqueness. Larger brands try to use ‘artisan’ and ‘craft’ as buzz words as a way to market their products too so their customers feel they have purchased a more exclusive piece. Customers are looking for individuality and bespoke items when purchasing product.

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I was also interested to find out which interior products in particular sold well at the Craft Centre, as this is the kind of retail market I am looking make for.  Kate said soft furnishings are often a big seller as they can be purchased for both gifts and for personal use. This may also be due to the lower price point of these items. In addition, soft furnishings  are purchased more often than items such as lighting as people only tend to replace lights and expensive decorative pieces as they redecorate. A good point she also made me consider was the fact lighting may also lead to a more limited sales outlets than more general craft products.  As my research showed, the sales of interior products, and in particular lighting, tend to follow the economic and housing market market.

Finally, as I was interested in possibly creating a product for children, I wanted to know if there is a strong market for children’s products? Kate said products for children sell well as they are purchased by both parents as well as gifts for friends and families. In addition, she also pointed our when creating children’s products it is important to think about health and safety. This is of the up-most importance. especially with and interactive piece, as you don’t want  encourage children to meddle with electricity or light bulbs. This made me think about perhaps producing an intem which can be placed by a light source or focus on items such as light boxes which are safer to use. I previously hadn’t considered the fact children’s products would have to stick to strict legislation.

Overall the information Kate provided was invaluable. It was really useful to speak to someone within the retail sector before I design a final product. Her advice made me understand more how to create a commercially viable item.

Pictures

Fig 1: Kate Day (2017) Manchester Craft & Design Centre [Online][Date Accessed 6th July 2017] http://www.craftanddesign.com/staff/kate-day/

Fig  2: Manchester Craft & Design Centre (2017) [Online][Date Accessed 6th July 2017] http://www.craftanddesign.com

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