Raaheel recently joined the Hook Research team as a Research Manager. We asked him to share his thoughts on a brand that he thought was offering a particularly strong voice in the consumer space.
For those of you who have not yet come across the app or website, Etsy is an e-commerce business that allows you to explore online marketplaces from around the world, selling typically vintage or craft goods. The site gives consumers access to these rustic or personalised products, not at an over-priced food and wine festival, but online – direct from the seller.
But what is the secret behind this platform’s success? And, as researchers, what can we learn from the Etsy brand as a whole?
Hand-crafted products; authentic stories
I think the Etsy Brand plays to our British, if not global, love of marketplaces; the desire for the important things we buy in life to have a story – one that is ‘unique’ or ‘one-off’ – that reveals to others (and us) something about our style, taste, and identity.
Sounds fantastic, right? You may even be wondering why no one else is giving this a go? The answer is, they have!
3 years ago, Amazon decided to officially try its hand at craft products by launching Etsy’s competitor: ‘Amazon Handmade’, but it’s safe to say you probably haven’t heard of them.
For the world’s largest online retailer – known primarily for its competitive prices on mass produced goods – to try and build a mini handcraft empire was near enough impossible and the disinterest they have experienced from their launch just goes to show how strong brand perceptions can be.
The Etsy Brand: Offering “A virtual hug of reassurance”
From its creation, the Etsy brand has firmly positioned itself as an up-keeper of the values and authenticity that customers are looking for when purchasing handmade and craft products. In other words, you are not just buying a handmade lamp made from a rusty copper pipe, you are supporting a skilled craftsman and keeping their business going.
Reflecting on some of the purchases I have made with them (scarves, jewellery and personalised gifts), I think Etsy has placed itself in a truly unique spot by giving its users the virtual hug of reassurance that online shoppers are so often looking for, but typically don’t get when buying handmade or vintage items online (think Gumtree, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace). Equally, customer reviews and seller ratings help legitimize the way business is done, unlike Groupon where you never know how good or bad something really is, until it’s too late.
Offering a brand experience that stands out
Etsy feels like a company that does good for small businesses, offering the security of an established e-commerce brand whilst also giving you a personal shopping experience that you don’t quite get from IKEA.
However, I think the key to its success is that it has worked to develop a powerful craft online shopping experience: it gives you the convenience of being able to buy from anyone, anywhere and in most cases have it delivered to you; it allows for customisation of products and services; but most importantly, unlike other handicraft and vintage sellers, it has managed to offer a safe and secure shopping experience whilst maintaining a ‘marketplace-esque’ brand image.