7 Ways to Design for New Markets

Have sales slowed down? Are you looking for new ways to expand your market? Spruce up your product line or develop new collections altogether.


Most successful artists present about 30% new work every year. Radical redevelopment of your product line isn’t necessary – keep your bestsellers, and make subtle improvements. Then, watch the market response.

There is a natural lifespan for product lines. Have you ever seen exhibitors who still seem to be selling what was popular twenty years ago? It happens when artists and craftspeople don’t grow, learn more skills and make time for product development. Sales will slow down and stagnate unless new product is added.

Evaluate your line. What has potential, and what’s past its prime?  As collections become older and have been “seen,” they drop off in sales. Your current customer base wants to know what’s new. Here are seven ways to start thinking about capturing new markets and making more sales to your existing clientele:

1. Themes sell. Consider developing part of your line, or a new collection into a theme. Then, spin off variations of that theme. An elephant theme, for example, might evolve into a “zoo collection.”

2. Explore new materials, and combine them with your existing line in a more mixed media approach. Jewelers, for instance, are using alternative materials as precious metal prices fluctuate and become too high-priced for some of their customer base.

3. Take a look at museum shows. What’s happening in national shows that travel can often be an inspiration for your own work. Sometimes they even start trends.

4. What’s hot with the popular culture? What’s trendy and what’s lasting? Some designers reflect passing fads in their work. You may want to stick with more classic designs, but use elements in them that give a nod to colors and styles today.

5. Hit new price points. Spreading your line to include higher-end work as well as moderately price merchandise can breathe life into your sales. You can cultivate a new customer and start breaking into that market.

6. Think differently. Some artists want to stay safe. What if you ventured into some experimental work? Make samples for your trade show. What doesn’t work can be sold as a one-off, and doesn’t have to be put into production.

7. Listen to your audience. Quite often, customers, gallery owners, or your sales reps can give you your best new ideas. They are on the front lines, knowing what is catching the eye of shoppers now.

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  1. I always do themes, baseball, flowers, cowboy, local landscape, and now San Francisco. I have always been successful with themes, as soon as I complet the series I have a show.

    • Yes, themes can be a very effective way of pulling together your line, and also connecting with the public. Many collectors love this market too!


  1. […] When your work sold well in the past and is no longer selling or selling at a slower pace, it’s time to evaluate. […]

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