How artisan independents will need to differentiate themselves in 2016+
Our last blog talked about an emerging mainstream trend for “careful consumerism” influenced by an upsurge in availability and popularity of artisanal products. Just think of the massive rise of craft beers and craft gins in the past few years and how the likes of Tanqueray London Gin and Miller Lite are taking influence from these shifts in customer behaviour.
This got us thinking, if mainstream, mass market products have begun to look and feel like artisan ones, how will artisan producers differentiate themselves from these? How will craft producers showcase how special they are? What will become the new signs and symbols of the carefully crafted product? Think of the visual associations we have collectively built up with a craft product – going back a few years the look and feel generally associated with artisanal products was quite ‘rustic’; bare wood, untreated cardboard, brown paper packages tied up with string. More recently this has shifted slightly to more luxury based references, more minimal in design, some taking influence from vintage and retro, but still with a leaning towards the natural to reference the “authentic” nature of the product. This has shown itself across commercial design from branding, to packaging to websites. With the mass market producers getting in on the act this look and feel is bound to dissipate and become more complex.This will show itself in craft products becoming very much more individual, so less similar to each other as being “artisanal” is no longer the special feature, the special feature will be within the product itself.
Provenance will become even more important which will mean consumers becoming even more demanding of an authentic and distinctive brand story to make their purchases feel distinctive. But perhaps there won’t be such an emphasis on “humble beginning” type brand stories and instead more of a focus on what the business is currently creating and what they are ‘cooking up’ for the future. With the continued rise of online video and popularity of video streaming I think these formats used for vlogging and insights will increase in popularity, and so we will see the rise of the superstar artisan.
Looking at the push for greater personalisation in online experiences, I also suspect that personalisation will filter in here more too, so there will be an increase in bespoke offerings from artisans and an even more personalised experience. As I said look and feel of the marketing and design that promotes these type of products will become ever-more individual to the products, its makers and what they are up to, so visually this will manifest in very contemporary design , that shifts, iterates and responds to their evolving products and their customers wants and needs. Because while the budget-rich but pace-poor mutilples try to nip at their ankles the truly artisan know their customers and know their craft like no other.