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Art and Craft Industry Overview
India is known globally for her rich heritage of Arts & Crafts.The handicrafts sector enjoys a special significance in the country's economy in terms of employment generation and earnings of foreign exchange through exports.Many agricultural and pastoral communities depend on their traditional craft skills as a secondary source of income in times of drought, lean harvests, floods or famine.There are 23 Million craftspeople in India today.

Statistical Overview of Art & Craft

  •  Second largest employment sector
  •  23 Million craftspeople
  •  63% of exports turnover
  •  9 items dominate exports of handicrafts

These nine items include art metal ware, wood ware, hand-printed textiles, hand-knotted and embroidered textiles, leather goods, stoneware, carpets and floor coverings.

India's rapidly burgeoning middle class, in search of an identity that is both Indian and contemporary, provides a natural and growing market for a utilitarian yet aesthetic handcrafted product at a price that is competitive and cost-effective.We cannot afford to ignore these new markets and needs. Craft products will have to be developed differently, marketed and promoted in innovative and varied ways, if they are to compete and survive.

The major problem in marketing the arts and crafts made in India are - consistency of supplies, quality control, scalability of supplies.

Craftspeople form the second largest employment sector in India, second only to agriculture.Many agricultural and pastoral communities depend on their traditional craft skills as a secondary source of income in times of drought, lean harvests, floods or famine.

Women struggling to enter the economic mainstream can use craft to become wage earners, provided they are shown how to get access to the market. Their inherent skills in embroidery, weaving, basketry etc. are a natural means to social and financial independence.

The handicrafts sector is a home-based industry which requires minimum of expenditure, infrastructure or training to set up. It uses existing skills and locally available materials. Inputs required can easily be provided and these are more in terms of product adaptation than expensive investment in energy, machinery or technology.

Also, income generation through craft does not (and this is important in a rural society) disturb the cultural and social balance of either the home or the community.

The craft sector contains many paradoxes. Artisanal contribution to the economy and the export market increases every year and more and more new crafts-people are being created - especially women - as a solution to rural and slum unemployment.

At the same time mass-produced goods are steadily replacing utility items of daily use made by craftspeople, destroying the livelihood of many, without the concomitant capacity to absorb them into industry.A mind-set that restricts anything handcrafted to the Government Emporia, the Crafts Museum and an occasional craft bazaar, will only succeed in the increasing marginalization of crafts and their producers.So will the idea that craft should be purely decorative bric-a-brac, and that tourists and the urban elite are its only target customers.The current much-used terms 'exclusive' and 'ethnic' are singularly limiting and inappropriate when marketing skills and products with a potential producer base of 23 million!

Public awareness of the cost-effectiveness, functionality and range of craft products is limited by their being sold only in exclusively 'crafty' outlets. We should neither neglect the simple utilitarian crafts, or down-grade those that are art forms.

The urban consumer, in spite of a growing awareness of craft, does not have access to many of the products that he would like to buy.

One problem faced by crafts people is that they are bound in their struggle for survival to money-lenders, traders or middlemen for credit and raw materials and they are obliged to sell their products to them at a minimal price.

Despite these adverse conditions, the traditional professional crafts person has a unique earning power that can be adapted to many new usages and markets.

Skills and raw materials also exist enabling handcrafted products to be competitive in both price and aesthetics.

Even if one feels there is no future for craft, can one ignore the fact that a large section of the population depends on craft skills for its livelihood.

However, with ever-increasing competition from mill-made products and decreasing buying power of village communities due to prevailing economic conditions, artisans have lost their traditional rural markets and their position within the community.

There is a swing against small scale village industries and indigenous technologies in favour of macro industries and hi-tech mechanized production.

Traditional rural marketing infrastructures are being edged out by multinational corporations, supported by sophisticated marketing and advertising.

The change in consumer buying trends and the entry of various new, aggressively promoted factory produced commodities into the rural and urban market, has meant that craft producers need more support than ever if they are to become viable and competitive.

Simultaneously, India's rapidly burgeoning middle class, in search of an identity that is both Indian and contemporary, provides a natural and growing market for a utilitarian yet aesthetic handcrafted product at a price that is competitive and cost-effective. Handicrafts are mostly defined as "Items made by hand, often with the use of simple tools, and are generally artistic and/or traditional in nature. They are also objects of utility and objects of decoration.

Importance of Handicraft
The Importance of handicrafts can be said to be twofold, cultural and economic.

  • The cultural importance of handicrafts pertains to preservation of heritage, aesthetic richness of traditional art forms, preservation of traditional skills and talents and their relevance to people's history and lifestyles.
  • The economic importance of handicrafts on the other hand lies in high employment potential, low capital investment, high ratio of value addition and high potential for exports / foreign exchange earnings.

Current Scenario
International: The handicraft industry stands at $100 billion worldwide and India has 1.2% of this market. China which is the largest country has a 14% share of the total handicraft market.

Indian Scenario: The handicraft industry currently is at 5000 crores, i.e. a 20.66 % growth recorded this year. Major items of export include artmetalware, woodware, handprinted textiles and scarves, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls as artware, zari goods, laces and imitation jewelry. This year the major buyers of Indian handicrafts were US, Canada, the European and the West Asian countries. The industry is spread all over the country employing over 5 million artisans and 67000 exporters tapping this market.

Key Facts about Handloom Industry

  • Growth rate of over 20 % every year.
  • The total export value was Rupees 5436 crore in 1998.
  • The largest category of exports is Art metal ware (Moradabad) contributing to almost 20% of the total. Carpets contribute about 11%.
  • India's handicrafts industry might be classified as a cottage industry, but its importance to the country's economy should not be underestimated.
  • The industry is labor-intensive and decentralized -- spread over urban and rural areas. Many artisans work in their chosen field on a part-time basis only.
  • It employs more than five million artisans -- mostly in the small-scale sectors of carpets, gem and jewelry manufacturing -- and is a growing source of foreign exchange earnings.
  • USA contributes to 28% export market for Indian handicrafts, followed by UK which contributes to 11%, France, Italy, Germany Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc., follow up with about 4% each. (98-99)

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Abundant and cheap labour hence can compete on price
  • Low capital investment and high ratio of value addition
  • Aesthetic and functional qualities
  • Wrapped in mist of antiquity
  • Hand made and hence has few competitors
  • Variety of products which are unique
  • Exporters willing to handle small orders
  • Increasing emphasis on product development and design upgradation

Weaknesses

  • Inconsistent quality
  • Inadequate market study and marketing strategy
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure and communication facilities
  • Capacity to handle limited orders
  • Untimely delivery schedule
  • Unawareness of international standards by many players in the market

Opportunities

  • Rising appreciation for handicrafts by consumers in the developed countries
  • Widespread novelty seeking
  • Large discretionary income at disposal of consumer from developed countries
  • Growth in search made by retail chains in major importing countries for suitable products and reliable suppliers. Opportune for agencies to promote marketing activities
  • Use of e-commerce in direct marketing

Threats

  • Decline in India’s share due to better quality products produced by competitors from Europe, South Africa, South Asia, etc.
  • Better terms of trade by competing countries
  • Consistent quality and increasing focus on R&D by competing countries
  • Better packaging
  • Stricter international stand

Major Handicrafts Buyers

Art Metal ware U.S., Germany, U.K. and Italy
Wood ware U.S., Germany, U.K. and France
Hand printed Textiles and Scarves U.S., Germany, U.K. and Canada
Embroidered and Crocheted Goods U.S., Saudi Arabia, U.K., Germany and Canada
Shawls
Saudi Arabia, U.S., Japan and U.K.
Zari and Zari goods U.K., U.S., Japan and Saudi Arabia
Imitation Jewellery U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia and Germany
Miscellaneous Handicrafts U.S., Germany, U.K. and France

Major Production Centres
Delhi, Moradabad, Sambhal, Jaipur and Kohima (Tribal) Surat, Amritsar, Agra and Varanasi : Rajasthan, Madras, Baster : Kashmir, Jaipur Agra, Madras, Baster, and Jodhpur: Kutch (Gujarat), Jaisalmer, Baroda, Lucknow, Jodhpur, Agra, Amritsar, Kullu, Dharamshala/ Chamba and Srinagar: Amroha, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Farrukhabad, Bagru and Sanganer.: Saharanpur, Nagina, Hoshiarpur, Srinagar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jagdalpur, Bangalore, Mysore, Chennapatna, Madras/ Manpad, Kerala and Behrampur (WB). Moradabad, Sambhal, Aligarh, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, Rewari, Thanjavur, Chennai, Manpad, Beedar, Kerala, Jagadhari, and Jalesher.

The Handicrafts Sector is able to provide substantial direct employment to the artisans and others engaged in the trade and also employment to many input industries in recognition of the above facts, the Government of India has set-up an autonomous All India Handicrafts Board. The promotion of handicrafts industries is the primary responsibilities of State Governments. However, the Office of the Development Commissioner has been implementing various departmental schemes at the central level to supplement state’s activities in the handicrafts sector besides the new thrust areas. The Office of the Development Commissioner functions under Ministry of Textiles for promotion and exports of handicrafts. The office is headed by Development Commissioner. It advises the Government of India on matters relating to the Development and Exports of Handicrafts and assists the State.

India is very rich in handicrafts and the associated skills. However, one serious drawback is that the artisans are not aware of trends in the foreign markets and they continue to produce things, which no longer appeal to the prospective buyers. Four design centers have already been set up in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Bangalore, to tackle this problem. However, a lot more needs to be done if India has to survive in the handicrafts industry.

Future
Handicrafts Industry has high growth potential, if all the ‘business concerns’ are addressed satisfactorily.India should start exploring new markets to ensure industry growth

Export procedures need to be streamlined.The handicraft industry currently is at 5000 crores, i.e. a 20.66 % growth recorded this year. Major items of export include art metal ware, wood ware, hand printed textiles and scarves, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls as art ware, zari goods, laces and imitation jewellery. The industry is spread all over the country employing over 5 million artisans and 67000 exporters tapping this market. : The handicraft industry stands at $100 billion worldwide and India has 1.2% of this market. China, which is the largest country, has a 14% share of the total handicraft market.


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