The CHA (Craft and Hobby Association) Trade show is currently taking place in Anaheim LA. A little look at the exhibitors directory shows that scrapbooking is as strong as ever and paper crafting continues have a dominant presence at the show.
Further investigation reveals that there seems to be no UK presence at the show this year. In 2009 there was a small group of UK craft companies in the overseas exhibitors pavilion hosted by an organization called Craft Quip, a division of Gardenex which accessed funding from UKTI (United Kingdom Trade and Investment). However this year there appears to be no trace of them.
That is not to say that UK craft companies are not represented at the show, far from it. Crafter’s Companion and fellow Newcastle crafters Flower Soft seem to be going from strength to strength. So what is the secret of their success? Well it’s simple; they do not align themselves as a separate UK craft group, but rather concentrate on integration, and not standing apart from the US market.
The key to foreign companies breaking into domestic markets can sometimes be as simple as blending in. The mantra “when in Rome” rings true. The problem is that exhibitors at trade shows are sometimes so desperate to set themselves apart in an effort to gain attention, that they are often just seen as outsiders or aliens.
Last year one of the exhibitors at the CHA within the UK group was approached by the marketing director of Michaels, the craft superstore chain in the US, and his comments was “So what is this UK Pavilion!” The UK contingent had certainly set themselves apart, but not in the way that they had wanted; the marketing message had certainly been lost, it was at best esoteric, and that is not the way to do business.