At SmallBusiness.com, we’ve long been fascinated with the growth of craft breweries and what other craft industries can learn from their success. Observing their steady growth, major news and business media are beginning to ask the same questions we’ve been asking. Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research and contributor to SmallBusiness.com, has been following the growth of The New Artisan economy for over a decade so the trend is not surprising to him, as he explains in this analysis.
There have been a number of recent articles pointing out that despite having to compete with several giant beer companies, the craft brewing industry has dramatically expanded over the past decade. Such articles make the point that craft brewing may be a model that spreads to other industries, creating new artisan businesses and middle-class jobs.
The Atlantic | Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America,
Bloomberg | Craft Brewing as a Model for Helping the Middle Class,
The Economist | Crafting a Life
New York Times | How Craft Breweries Are Helping to Revive Local Economies
It is certainly true that artisan businesses can be job creators. As the chart below from The Atlantic shows, brewing jobs have taken off thanks to the craft brewing boom. And these have been good jobs:
- Craft jobs typically pay decent wages
- Workers have consistent schedules
- The jobs generally come with benefits
Three broad trends of the New Artisan Economy
In the work Emergent Research has done for Intuit during the past decade on the New Artisan Economy, we have observed these trends:
Demand | A growing base of customers looking for unique, unusual, personalized or locally produced products.
Online Marketing | The internet has made it much easier to find or be found by people interested in buying niche products.
Technology | New technology is lowering the cost of serving niche markets and making artisans able to compete with even the largest of firms.
Quote from the Emergent Research 2008 paper, “Intuit Future of Small Business Report“:
“The new generation of artisans will be amplified versions of their medieval counterparts. They’ll be equipped with advanced technology, able to access global and local business partners and customers and be capable of competing in any industry. Their firms will agile, flexible and often partner with larger firms to accomplish their business goals. Most will be knowledge artisans, relying on human capital to solve complex problems and develop new ideas, products, services and business models. These artisan firms will attract and retain highly skilled and creative talent by offering freedom and flexibility and, in many cases, highly competitive compensation.”
Other craft business segments are doing well
The U.S. National League of Cities has called artisan makers the future of small manufacturing and have urged cities to create programs to support them due to their positive economic impact.Other successful artisan business sectors, including crafts, fashion, distilled spirits, and a wide variety of food products.