Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gimme Some Lovin’ Handmade

When shoppers want to show love, they’ll have an additional attraction to items that are handmade rather than manufactured by machine.
     In a set of studies at Cornell University, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, and Technische Universität München, the researchers analyzed a range of other possible explanations for the appeal of the handmade aside from the association with love:
  • More effort to produce than the machine-made, so greater significance 
  • Increased authenticity 
  • Greater pride in production, which deserves to be rewarded 
  • Unavoidable variations, so item uniqueness 
  • Closer attention to detail, so higher quality 
     Other research has shown evidence that at least some of these five can make a difference. For instance, researchers at Colorado State University found that consumers choose to personalize with their own handmade designs even if it means accepting an outcome inferior to what professional designers would produce.
     But even when the Cornell/Vienna/TUM researchers statistically controlled for the other five explanations, the love connection was still there. It showed itself in stronger purchase intentions for handmade than machine-made products when buying gifts for loved ones. This preference wasn’t seen as strongly in purchase intentions for other gift recipients. The love connection was also seen in shoppers’ willingness to pay more for handmade gifts when purchased to convey love than purchased to acquire the best-performing alternative. Handmade craftsmanship gives a backstory the purchaser can tell to family and close friends who see the creation.
     You can use the love appeal of handmade in ways beyond the labels on merchandise. Lululemon Athletica stores have used what looks like a hand-painted calendar of special events and large shelf tags describing the different types of merchandise done in a handwriting font. Keep in mind, though, that research at University of Colorado suggests a handmade look might not appeal to all types of consumers. It’s most attractive to shoppers who see themselves as creative or aspire to be more creative.
     Also recognize that “handmade” and “mass produced” are not mutually exclusive. A few years ago, CB2, a spinoff from retailer Crate and Barrel, hired a craftsman to hand-build a limited edition of 200 American black walnut side tables, which were peddled at twelve stores and via the online catalog. Even at a production run of 200, a claim of uniqueness or of handcrafted authenticity could wear like a thin veneer. “Uniquely authentic” starts sounding to consumers more like “faddishly routine.”

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Personalize the Shopping Experience
Ask “Whither Art Thou Helping?”
Offer Neatness to Creative Shoppers

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