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A compilation of the various market research projects conducted by and for industry-related trade associations, publications, and others.

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Industry Research Studies
An Informal History of Industry Research
How Not To Read Research Studies


Note: These are listed in chronological order.

1. The preliminary results of the 2012 Artist & Art Materials Study, sponsored by NAMTA, are HERE.

2. The new CHA Attitude and Usage Study for the Canadian Market is now available to member on the CHA website at The Study is available for purchase by non-members by emailing Keri Cunningham at or calling 201-835-1220.

3. The latest research conducted by the Craft Yarn Council, conducted in the fall of 2011, is now available at

4. The updated Attitude & Usage Study conducted by the research firm Ipsos for the Craft & Hobby Assn. is available at the CHA website,, in the "Member" section. For more information, call Keri Cunningham at 201-835-1220 or email

5. Sewing & Craft Alliance conducted a study of consumers who participated in various National Sewing Month activities. For a free copy of the results, email Joyce Perhac at

6. The State of Specialty NeedleArts 2010, was conducted by Hart Business Research for The National NeedleArts Association. The Study is available at

7. The Quilting in America™ 2010 survey was conducted by Quilts Inc., sponsor of the Quilt Markets and Festivals, and Quilters Newsletter, published by Creative Crafts Group. For more information about the study, click HERE or email

8. CHA surveyed attendees at the 2010 Craft Super Show (consumer) in Anaheim in January. To see the complete results, visit 

9. PMA. The 2009 PMA U.S. Consumer Photo Buying Report is now available. The basic report is free to PMA members. Non-members may buy the report for $299. Visit

10. Interweave/NAMTA. The 2009 Artists + Art Materials Study. The Study is free to NAMTA members, and an executive summary is free to all. Non-members may purchase the complete Study for $5,000. Visit

11. Other CHA Research.  CHA has also studied the mindset of multi-cultural crafting consumers, examined the attitudes and usage of scrapbookers in more detail, identified key influencers of crafting, and researched the impact of hands-on projects in elementary schools. To read the Executive Summaries of each of these studies, visit

12. Hobby Manufacturers Association. HMA released a new study that pegs the size of the industry (plastic model kits, radio-control, model railroading, etc.) at $1.2 billion. For more information, visit and click on Press Releases.

13. Lion Brand Yarn conducted a study of knit/crochet enthusiasts' use of the Internet, including blogs, podcasts, and groups. Visit and scroll down to the Oct. 29 entry.

14. The State of Beading: Consumer Purchasing Habits, Trends, and Motivation, sponsored by Interweave Press. Published in 2004. A four-page summary is
available by contacting Jaime Guthals, publicist, at The complete survey is $200. Call 800-272-2193.

Others. Various consumer enthusiast magazines have surveyed their readers concerning their buying habits, brand preferences, etc., and often are willing to share the results with market researchers and potential advertisers. Check with the publishers or ad directors for individual magazines. 


by Mike Hartnett

The first published record of the size of the craft industry appeared in Profitable Craft Merchandising magazine in the late 1960's or early 1970's. Publisher Jack Wax announced that the total annual sales in the fledgling industry were $300 million.

At a trade show the following January, the late industry pioneer Bill Mangelsen asked Jack how he had compiled that figure. Bill said Jack looked around to make certain no one else was listening and whispered, "We gotta start someplace."

That was the industry standard until the mid-late 1970's when the Hobby Industry Assn., the forerunner of today's Craft & Hobby Assn., conducted studies of its members. Unfortunately, many HIA members were suspicious of revealing their sales figures to the HIA staff – HIA dues were determined by a company's sales volume – so they either ignored the questionnaire or under-reported their sales.

The resulting studies were so inaccurate that they had little or no credibility. By the early 1980's I was editor of Profitable Craft Merchandising and one year when I happened to know that the true sales of a single floral company were higher than what the HIA study reported was the size of the entire floral category, I refused to publish the results.

The HIA studies died soon afterwards.

For years there was no size of industry study at all. During that time trade magazine editors such as myself and HIA staff members were bombarded by market researchers, stock market analysts, potential investors, and others desperate for data. Current and potential industry businesses would call, too, needing data to show their bankers.

We would explain to the callers that there was no data. They would insist they had to have numbers. To get them to hang up, I would give them HIA's phone number. I later learned HIA would give them my number.

As tiresome as those phone calls were, I do understand the callers' intent. Why would anyone invest money in an industry that doesn't even know how big it is?

One year I was sitting at a bar one night during a trade show, having a drink with the late Karen Ancona, then editor of CNA, and Susan Brandt, then the HIA communications director. We complained about the time spent talking to these people and how they wouldn't leave us alone.

We concluded the only way to get these people off our backs was to give them a number. And if we all agreed on the same number, then maybe these callers would leave us alone. We decided to settle on a number, then say to the callers, "There is no study, but if I had to guess, I'd say...."

We had another drink and decided that the size of the industry was $3 billion. The three of us used that figure throughout the year. The following year at the trade show we met in the hotel bar again, decided our plan had been successful, and we should continue it.

So we asked ourselves, "Ok, so how much did the industry grow this past year?" We had another drink and concluded that it had grown 10%. Therefore, the new size of industry was $3.3 billion.

We used that $3.3 billion figure, and midway through the year one of these market experts we'd talked to told the Wall Street Journal, in what was no doubt a very authoritative manner, that the size of the industry was $3.3 billion.

Hmmm. Maybe if we'd had a few more drinks first, the industry would have been at $4 or $5 billion.

Finally, Real Results.

Probably one of the most significant events in the history of the industry was in 1987 when Jim Scatena, now CEO/President of FloraCraft, convinced the HIA board of directors to spend real money to hire a market research firm to conduct a real size of industry study.

An outside firm gave the study instant credibility; members were far more likely to respond when they knew their individual questionnaires would remain confidential. There were doubts raised by members about the veracity of the data, but that's inevitable. If my retail store had flat sales in, say, acrylic paint, but the survey said paint sales increased, I'm going to no doubt wonder about the study. Many people probably doubted the results because the results were averages, and no one has a perfectly average business.

But all those bankers, analysts, and others didn't doubt the results. Now, finally, they had some numbers. Now, finally, it made sense to invest in, or give loans to, an industry company.

It was expensive – a lot more expensive than buying drinks for Karen, Susan, and me – but over time it inspired outsiders to pour millions of dollars into the industry for expansion and new product development. We wouldn't have grown to where we are today without such investments.

So the study, which surveyed retailers, vendors, and consumers, was conducted every other year, but as time went by the number of responses declined, and some major players – e.g., Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby – declined to report their numbers, and so the researchers had to guessitmate their sales. Their guesses were as accurate as anybody's (sales/sq. ft., x number of feet x number of stores, etc.) but they were still guesses.

By then the studies said the industry had grown to $10+ billion. Finally some board members decided there were far more sales in the industry than the study was capturing, and a new method was needed. Instead of trying to capture all of the appropriate retailers and manufacturers and plead with them to respond to the questionnaire, why not just go directly to consumers and ask them what they spent their money on, and how much?

That meant a new study, a new research company, and a completely new methodology. And the results, published about 2001, showed the industry had, uh, doubled. Now suddenly we're over $20 billion. (This is a classic example of how you can't compare studies that used different methodologies.)

Since then the subsequent studies have indicated that the industry has usually continued to grow – a far cry from "we gotta start somewhere."


1. Remember, we have not died and gone to heaven, so no study is perfect. And even if it was, it's a picture of the past, not the present. It takes months to conduct research, then tabulate and publish the results.

2. Every study has a different methodology, so comparing one study to another is truly an apples-to-oranges dilemma. Trying to take the CYCA yarn data and have it fit perfectly with the TNNA yarn research and the CHA study will just give you a headache. Each study is not a piece of a single jigsaw puzzle that, when fit together with other pieces, forms a logical whole.

3. Was the study conducted for the first time or was it a repeat of an earlier study? If it's a first-timer, consider it a baseline. Any specific data might be a result of a flaw in the study rather than the "truth." But if a study repeats the methodology of a previous study, then the differences in the results are probably genuine trends.

4. Know a study's "margin of error." For example, if a study with a margin of error of 5 reports the percentage of households with a cross-stitcher is 20, then you can assume the true percentage is somewhere in the range of 15% and 25%. If an earlier version of the study revealed the percentage of households was 18% with the same margin of error, then you cannot conclude with 100% certainty that cross stitch has increased.



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