Crafts provided an invaluable outlet and helped the mental wellbeing of many during the worst of the pandemic in 2020. But the success now being enjoyed by Immediate Media’s craft portfolio is being driven by more: the goal to build a go-to destination for a rapidly-growing generation of younger crafters, especially.
Crafting, a major growth activity internationally, is big business in the UK, where it generates an estimated £5.4 billion annually in retail sales.
According to Immediate’s Craft Intelligence, a biennial study conducted by Kantar, almost 70% of British women – more than 18 million people – crafted in the last year. Nine out of ten people said crafting had helped their stress during lockdowns. And eight out of ten millennials crafted in 2020 – an increase of one million people year on year.
It’s a dynamic and lucrative market. And with magazines from Today’s Quilter to Mollie Makes and Simply Crochet, Immediate has leading brands in knitting, quilting, crochet, stitching and cardmaking.
“Crafting is multi-faceted – there are lots of different crafts out there,” says Marie Davies, managing director of Immediate’s Homes & Lifestyle division, in which the crafts portfolio sits.
“Our craft brands consist of nine regular print brands, including The World of Cross Stitching (a huge legacy brand now in its twenty-fourth year), and gathered.how – an online property launched in 2019 to be the go-to site for the 112 million global craft audience.”
gathered.how, an amalgamation of many of the craft portfolio’s brand websites which were previously separate, is also a neat embodiment of Immediate’s craft strategy.
“It brings together new and experienced crafters to sample content and enjoy events,” she says. “It unites our print brands in the digital space. A new emerging younger audience – millennials – is growing. And with more multi-crafters, it allows us to offer the most comprehensive user experience in the market.”
In short, it is an opportunity to truly join up the craft space for users.
Eight out of ten millennials crafted in 2020 – an increase of one million people year on year.
As well as convenience, however, another strategic pillar for Immediate’s craft portfolio is community.
“What we do is always about growing engagement through growing our community,” Davies adds.
“Pre-pandemic, we had a sizable revenue mix with export and licensing as well. Lockdowns made that more challenging. Now we want to reach more audiences through all of our platforms – to be platform-agnostic, really – and engage new audiences to bring them into our community.
“Recurring revenues are tremendously important to us. Subscribers are essential to our strategy.”
When it comes to engagement, social media, newsletters, and videos all play an important role.
“We know we have a core loyal print readership, but they span into our digital spaces too. They are engaging through Facebook and Instagram and they are enjoying our YouTube channel, which we’ve put a lot of effort into,” she explains.
“Video content is key – we are all seeing much more video content in every touchpoint through social and websites; it’s everywhere. It’s all about how can we bring to life our content in a more accessible way for as many people as we can.”
Video is especially important to attract, engage and retain millennial crafters. And evidence of success so far points to the craft portfolio’s future direction.
“We’ve seen tremendous traffic growth – triple digit in certain areas on gathered.how. We need to become a truly platform-agnostic businesses to really engage in a way that is appealing and engaging for younger audiences, so we need to broaden out our offering.”
Newsletters, which aren’t just a data trawl, are an important part of that.
“We don’t just want to collect data from customers to sign up to a newsletter, we want to give them value. It’s all about what are we giving in return,” she insists, stressing many are now published weekly.
“We want to deliver something every week that is meaningful, with content they can link back through to the gathered.how website so they can explore more and find information and tips. We want to find how we can make those newsletters commercially viable, as well.
“If we are front of people’s mind because we are in touch with them, we can create personal journeys for our users which will increase engagement, and that will drive many other commercial opportunities across our platforms.”
Research already shows driving engagement drives users to gathered.how which, in turn, drives subscriptions to Immediate’s craft brands.
“If value is there, they will engage more,” Davis notes. “If they engage more, they are likely to purchase a product from us – whether that’s an affiliate’s product or one of our own.”
It’s about growing customers’ worth beyond ‘just’ being a subscriber. And in this respect, Immediate’s craft portfolio is well on its way.
It’s all about how can we bring to life our content in a more accessible way for as many people as we can.
You can hear Marie Davies being interviewed by James Evelegh on a recent episode of The InPublishing Podcast, which was sponsored by AdvantageCS, a leading global provider of subscription and membership management software.
This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.