Artisanal products on trend

Wednesday, 11 May, 2022

Artisanal products on trend

Canadian researchers have found that changing market forces is the reason why artisanal or handmade-like products have become popular amongst large commercial producers.

In a new paper, researchers from Concordia University and HEC Montreal analysed markets and found that products are increasingly concentrating on aesthetics and craft, even if they are produced commercially.

Craft markets, or those with small producers that make their products individually or by hand, are serving as a source of inspiration for commercial producers, who are looking to present their own products as more authentic or genuine, despite being made on a factory line. The researchers say that this is because as larger markets are evolving they co-opt smaller producers that target specialised markets.

One of the study’s authors, Pierre-Yann Dolbec, uses coffee as an example of co-option.

“In this market, like others, craft firms aim for aesthetic perfection while commercial firms try to maximize profits,” Dolbec said. “For example, craft coffee shops target coffee connoisseurs by tailoring brewing recipes to specific coffee beans to perfect the taste of the coffee. Commercial firms target mainstream consumers by creating products that can be efficiently produced at a profit, such as sugary delights like the Pumpkin Spice Latte.”

The study’s analysis of product development and markets puts forward that there are four kinds of production firms: craft specialists and generalists, and commercial specialists and generalists. Craft specialists target a small market and try to produce the perfectly aesthetic product for it, whereas craft generalists aim for a larger market with broader consumer preferences and levels of product knowledge, while still aiming for aesthetic qualities.

Conversely, commercial firms concentrate on profit and wide markets, with aesthetic perfection being irrelevant. So, while commercial specialists still target a niche market, the market is more concerned with ease of use and commercial generalists simply want to maximise their customers.

In the end, as specialist firms become more popular, commercial firms will be able to produce similar products that draw in people who were interested in the artisanal products of craft markets but hadn’t been motivated to understand how to enter the market themselves.

The full paper was published in the Journal of Marketing.

Image credit: © Hera

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