Is Hand-Made A Mass Market?

Lately, hand-made marketplaces and labels are springing up like mushrooms. Due to the Internet, unknown designers stand a chance of making a living from their art. But the amount of products crafted in a day is pretty low compared to industrial mass production. And not everybody loves crafts. Does hand-made really have the ability to satisfy the masses? Claudia Helming tried to answer this question in her talk at NEXT Berlin 2012.

As co-founder and CEO of Dawanda she believes that “it already is a mass market, but a hidden one, which is not as yet overly exploited.” According to Helming, 60% of the Germans craft and are therefore potential customers for hand-made products. Of course, this number indicates a mass market.

Having a look at the DIY market, one has to draw the conclusion that the customer base is pretty large. All around the globe, there are several platforms like Dawanda. The most prominent example is probably Etsy, which made 500 million Euro in sales in 2011. So apparently, there has to be a huge market for such products.

In her talk Helming does not only look at the market at large, but also presents best practices: a young label from Thuringia, which is very successful on Dawanda. Like most other hand-made labels, it also offers customised products.

Customers have changed, they have become more aware of what they consume. They are interested in the story behind a product, in how and where it was made. This observation does not only concern the fashion market, but refers to a general development. Chris Heathcote also endorsed this in his talk at this year’s NEXT Berlin.

Helming concludes: “People want to get involved. They don’t want to be the passive consumer anymore, but actively participate either by making their own designs or by collaborating with designers to get personalised products. They want to get involved by talking and interacting with other people,” Helming concludes.