Younger Consumers Spur

2005 Research Shows: Younger Consumers Spur Increase in Yarn Projects

The latest numbers from Craft Yarn Council of America’s (CYCA) 2005 Consumer Tracking Study show that knitting and crochet project numbers were up 13% last year, and the biggest increases in activity were in the under-35, 55-64, and 65 and older age groups.

Spurred by the dramatic increase in activity in 2005, CYCA decided to break its traditional bi-annual study schedule to get a more current look on activity and preferences. “What we found was a rapidly growing younger group of consumers, and dramatic increases in the purchase of fashion yarns,” says John Laurie, chairman of CYCA. “Coupled with the projected increase in number of projects, this all indicates a continuation of the growth with new, younger consumers who will be with us for many years to come.”

CYCA commissioned Research Incorporated of Atlanta, GA, to conduct its seventh study to reveal current and projected consumer activity. Interviews were completed in October and November of 2005, and the survey questions closely paralleled those asked in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004.

In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 400 active knitters/crocheters who purchased yarn AND knitted or crocheted a project during the past year. Random calls, supplemented with a list of consumers interested in needlecraft from Experian’s nationwide BehaviorBank database ensured that data collected in this research is projectable nationally.

“Our goal was again to describe yarn usage and shopping patterns, identify the most popular projects and expenditures, track changes in basic and fashion yarn usage, and provide information on future plans,” says Mary Colucci, CYCA’s Executive Director. “Most important, the results always show us the important opportunities for both retailers and suppliers.”

Sh scarves and afghans were among the most popular projects reflecting hot trends in fashion and home dec. This latest survey showed increases in the number of projects in every project category, an average of 17.3 projects, versus 2004’s 15.3, with afghans, blankets and throws remaining the favorite project among all crocheters and knitters (55% made at least one). Baby blankets and scarves were made by 50% of respondents. This last figure marks a 14 percentage point increase in the number of scarves made in 2005.

This trend fueled a huge increase in sales of fashion yarns (defined as yarn with interesting textures, such as fur looks, metallics, chenilles and boucles), as 42% purchased fashion yarns in 2005, compared to 27% in 2004; a 56% increase. These increases were across all age groups, although knitters tended to purchase more fashion yarns than crocheters.

Most respondents spent between $2 and $7 per skein, mirroring the 2004 results. However, while only 11% or respondents purchased yarns between $7 – $9.99 in 2004, this number increased to 14% in 2005. Knitters and crocheters spent the most money on afghans and throws in 2005 ($36.07 average), followed by sweaters and vests ($34.77), ponchos ($26.61), shawls ($22.28), baby blankets ($20.42) and scarves ($16.85).

Respondents got their project ideas from many sources, but the top choice with 39% was small format pattern books, an increase of 63%. This was followed by magazines, with 35% (a 40% increase), and friends with 24%.

Another popular place for ideas and networking was the Internet, where 31% went to get ideas, find patterns, purchase yarn and supplies, and network with other knitters and crocheters. In particular, they were more than twice as likely to use the Internet to find patterns and purchase yarn and supplies in 2005 than in 2004.

Indicative of the continuing excitement, 80% of crocheters and knitters interviewed were planning to make as many or more projects. This response was unanimous across all age groups.

“The research shows women are spending more money on knit and crochet projects, and doing more of them, but the challenge is to keep our customers returning for more to maintain this level of participation and enthusiasm,” comments John Laurie. “There are three significant opportunities for our retailers: offering classes (since only 17% of respondents are very satisfied in that area), having knowledgeable employees (only 27% are very satisfied), and stocking up-to-date patterns (54% are very satisfied).”

The changing sophistication of the craft yarn consumer is reflected in the types of classes they’d like to see. While 23% are looking for basic knitting and crochet classes, 28% want a general, less-structured clinic, and 29% were interested in advanced techniques.

“Armed with this information, the industry can move forward with even more innovative programs in the future,” says Mary Colucci. “We’ve already got a craft that offers stress relief, creativity, beautiful materials and a social atmosphere.

We nurture that community through CYCA’s web sites and message boards, and will continue to introduce programs such as ‘Progressions’ to stimulate excitement at retail. We all know that working together is the key to taking this industry to even higher levels of success.”

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