irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Gay Marriages, Craft Designers, and Retail
The meaning of words.
by Mike Hartnett (April,
Our language does not give us the clear-cut descriptions of our
thoughts and feelings that we think it does. The results are often
arguments and confusion in politics, business, and every other facet
of our lives.
Richard Clark and Condoleezza Rice argue over the precise meaning
of the word, "urgent." Was terrorism an "urgent"
priority for the Bush administration? Depends on whom you ask and
who's defining "urgent."
Then there's the gay marriage controversy. People are throwing
around terms such as "sanctity of marriage" and
"civil unions." Hmmm, I guess I have trouble seeing the
sanctity in a couple of drunks stumbling into a wedding chapel in
Las Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator. And what's
the difference between marriage and a civil union if you're wedded
by a justice of the peace in city hall? You want to
"sanctify" your union? Go to a church, synagogue, or
Words and labels.
The definitions of words blur in our business, too. How about
"designer," "inventor," and
"manufacturer"? Many of our smallest manufacturers have an
invention rather than a manufacturing business. And many designers I
know have either invented a product or a new use for an existing
Sometimes words overlap, such as designer and inventor, or people
change the meaning of words without telling us. Last year ago CLN
reported on a survey conducted by the Big Lots chain that determined
consumers no longer consider a discount to be a bonafide
"sale" unless it's at least 32% off the regular price.
Because of the expense of promoting a sale and the increasing
cost of cutting prices deeply enough so consumers will recognize
that it is, in fact, a sale, many retailers have switched to the
Wal-Mart strategy of "everyday low prices."
In other words, a 365-days-a-year "sale."
Everyday low prices means the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail
Price, once sacrosanct, is moot. Far more often than not, the MSRP
is so hopelessly out of date, so non-existent, that consumers don't
know what it is supposed to be, let alone actually pay that price.
Because acrylic paint, embroidery floss, and numerous other products
are on sale all the time, the sale price becomes the regular price.
Then the consumer asks, "What have you done for me
Maybe we should change the name to the MWTRP: the Manufacturer's
Wishful Thinking Retail Price.
So what is "crafts," anyway?
All this is leading up to the biggest word problem of them all:
"Crafts." Some home dec tv producers and magazine
publishers take great pains to avoid using the C word. Apparently
for them the word continues to have a bad connotation – tacky
projects that Boy Scouts make on a rainy day.
Meanwhile, the result of the soon-to-be-completed merger of HIA
and ACCI will have "Craft" as the lead word in the title,
the Craft & Hobby Association. And HIA has worked hard in recent
years on its "Crafts. Discover Life's Little Pleasures"
Ask a knitter, painter, scrapbooker, or a cross stitcher if she
is a crafter, and she'll probably say no. But odds are she buys her
supplies at a craft store.
It's ironic that so many consumers and media types don't use the
word, but the craft industry continues to grow.
Note: Email your thoughts on words or any other industry
issue to Mike at email@example.com.
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