In Chapter 9 of Homeward Bound, Emily Matchar explains how new domesticity brings together folks who seem like polar opposites. New domesticity appeals to both liberals and conservatives for some of the same reasons and for reasons that differ. I’ll let you explore that topic in the book.
One subtopic in this chapter is about the rise of the Mormon blogosphere (i.e., the Bloggernacle) and the popularity of new domesticity blogs among Mormon women. This point deserves mention because of the role Mormons have played in the scrapbook industry. This connection between religious beliefs and hobby pursuits allowed scrapbooking to take off as a sustainable (yes, it is sustainable) industry. At the same time, this relationship also influences the products that get made and what types of stories get promoted as scrapworthy. While this model is sustainable, it doesn’t allow for growth and certainly doesn’t prevent decline. What I see happening within the industry is marketing to the same core groups of current and potential scrapbookers: new moms (baby lines), Americans (red, white, and blue lines; Halloween), Christian (Christmas lines, which are surprisingly rarely religious themed).
As you all know, I place little faith in the market research out there on scrapbookers. The oft-cited “1 in 4 homes have a scrapbooker” and “it’s more popular than golf” is absurd. Substitute memory keeper for scrapbooker and you might be getting closer to an accurate count. And if you include facebook, then everyone is a memory keeper (despite the large number of folks who join and rarely share anything on the social network). Regardless, more people don’t scrapbook than scrapbook. This means there are many potential hobbyists, but many are neglected simply because they do not fit the image of what a scrapbooker should be. Therefore, products aren’t made for them, which is why there is a need for niche themey-product. Yes, many of us abandon and judge the use of themey-products, but most of us started with themey-products. The themey-products say “you belong” and help us think about how memories and photographs might be recorded. Otherwise, it is overwhelming.
When much of the industry is controlled by folks of one or two demographics, what gets produced fits that narrow image of scrapbooking. This is true of any industry primarily controlled by people of the same demographic.
Please don’t take this post to be anti-Mormon. It’s not. If it weren’t for their religous beliefs that are conducive to scrapbooking, we would most likely not have an industry to speak. What it is, is a call (yet again) for a wider variety of products/themes produced by the industry. There are underserved niche markets in this industry and this is where the industry could find growth.