Market Focus: Amateur Woodworkers
Nailing Down a Niche
Thinking small can generate big results. At least, that’s what some marketers are finding when it comes to the woodworking hobbyist market in the United States. A survey conducted by National Family Opinion on behalf of Wood magazine found that approximately 5.5 million Americans actively participate in woodworking as a hobby, says Mark Hagen, the magazine’s publisher. That’s a relatively minute segment of the population but, in the case of woodworkers, it’s not the market size that counts—it’s the demographics.
The typical amateur woodworker is male, 50 to 55 years old, educated, married and a homeowner, says Lawanna Bales, CEO of Atlanta-based Highland Hardware, a mail-order marketer of tools, supplies and books for wood-workers. In terms of profession, the group is fairly eclectic. “We have [tradesmen] … who are really good at working with their hands,” observes Hagen. “We also have a fair amount of professionals—doctors, lawyers, dentists and people like that.”
The common denominator is that all of them have time and money to invest in their hobby, and they aren’t afraid to use it to shop remotely. In fact, 62 percent of Wood subscribers bought woodworking products via direct response in 2002, according to a 2003 subscriber study. This may be attributed to the group’s use of specialized tools and materials that aren’t available through mainstream retailers, and the fact that many woodworkers live in suburban to rural areas, where access to large woodworking retailers may be limited, Hagen says.
Exploring the Market’s Potential
Woodworkers’ relative affluence and predisposition to mail-order shopping have not gone unnoticed. Beyond tool manufacturers, woodworking shops and material suppliers, companies in areas like home improvement and gardening are exploring the market’s potential. One example is Zoysia Farm Nurseries, which markets grass plugs that promise an attractive yet low-maintenance lawn. The company has been reaching out to woodworkers through direct response ads in woodworking magazines for decades, says John Ridgway, vice president of sales and marketing.