Editor’s note: Sophie Hardaker is principal at Incite, a London-based strategic research consultancy. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “Growth trends in the crafting sector.” 

The crafting market is often seen as a niche sector appealing to a narrow demographic. The truth couldn’t be more different. Activities such as baking, needlework, pottery, wood crafts and jewelry attract about £3.4 bn of spend in the U.K. and appeal to a broad participant base. This includes younger people, with 73% of 16-34-year-olds having participated in a craft in the last 12 months.

National lockdowns have encouraged people to discover (or re-discover) home-based pastimes, contributing to a record year for crafting. However, even pre-pandemic the sector had been in sustained growth; Hobbycraft, the U.K.’s largest arts and crafts retailer, experienced its eighth consecutive year of growth in 2019.

What has contributed to this success and what can other sectors learn from a vibrant and innovative sector?

Disruptive business models have been a key source of growth, opening up age-old activities to new customer types. Direct-to-consumer needlecraft brand Wool and The Gang is a great example of this, with its range of fashion-focused kits attractive to all experience levels. The brand boasts over 400,000 Instagram followers and a similar number of monthly website visits, earning it praise for “bringing knitting into the 21st century.” 

Recently, subscription models have also taken off in the space, providing greater convenience and the excitement of new “experiences” through a monthly delivery. Makebox & Co is a leading U.K. brand in the space curating everything from printmaking and ceramics to needle crafts.

Market growth has also been supported by macro trends. Recognition of the mental health benefits of practicing mindfulness and digital detox heighten...