Etsy’s collaboration with Zoella shows its downfall as the ‘handmade marketplace’. | by CaffeineGalore | Sep, 2020


If you’re a fan of internet shopping but supporting small businesses, I’d be surprised if you had yet to hear about Etsy.

Known to many as the ‘handmade marketplace’, Etsy has grown year on year with both their vast catalog of items from individual sellers, as well as the attraction from side hustles looking to increase their income.

However, Etsy has come under significant skepticism due to several controversial changes, including substantial fee increases, US-centric policies, and most recently — their collaboration with popular UK blogger/vlogger, Zoella (also known as Zoe Sugg).

Zoella’s demographic has always been young, impressionable teenage girls. Sounds great, right? Wrong. These girls don’t have the care nor purse strings to purchase sustainably via a website that has always applauded itself on high-quality products.

Zoella’s collaboration history proves this: Superdrug, Boots, Asos and Primark are hardly leading names in sustainability and are tied with both unethical conditions and unsustainability . These brands cater for the fast and cheap consumer behaviour that is abhorrent in the demographic of Zoella’s followers.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that not all of Zoella’s followers are this demographic, and there are older women who do enjoy her content. But with age comes greater responsibility, and thus the older your audience, the less impressionable they are: and the likelihood of this collaboration bringing in successful revenue with her older audience is low.

When speaking to many Etsy sellers on their closed Facebook group, concern regarding past PR controversies was the greatest concern for many. Through association, Etsy would be branded as a marketplace known for dodgy transactions and unprofessionalism. Etsy has always had a difficulty in proving the price of their seller’s products online (handmade products should always be more expensive than mass market, FYI), and teaming up with a woman notorious for inflated price tags and ripping off consumers may not have been the best strategy.

Without reading the minds of those who made the decision, it seems that Etsy simply went for the famous name with an extortionate number of followers: thinking that would translate into positive reach, conversion, and ultimately: sales. That may have worked in the past, but influencer market and the naivety of audiences has evolved considerably since then.

So why are they still dominant? Well, simply a lack of competition. It wouldn’t take a genius to set up a similar platform, but the constant outbid on marketing and PR would make it difficult to break into the market. However, I wouldn’t be surprised until a challenger comes along, offering better protection to buyers and better fees to sellers, replenishing the community vibe that Etsy lost through their growth.

Etsy always did pride itself on its independent sellers, describing themselves as the ‘Handmade Marketplace’, but have, for quite some time, come under fire for selling out to investors — losing the trust and loyalty of many of their original sellers. Folks like Etsy need to remember that without the sellers, their platform would cease to exist — so maybe next time a consultancy of where the fees would go would be more beneficial to the Etsy community.

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