What Do The Etsy Design Awards Tell Us About What Customers Want?
Last week Etsy revealed 100 finalists in the third annual Etsy Design Awards (also known as The Etsies), the global award program that celebrates the highest-quality items on Etsy while spotlighting sellers from around the world.
The platform has become an e-commerce powerhouse in the last 18 months, with sales rocketing during the pandemic. This year, the business has consolidated their reputation as one to watch in the online space by making acquisitions such as British-based resale platform Depop for $1.6 billion and Brazilian marketplace Elo7 for $210 million.
With their finger firmly on the pulse of online shopping, the Etsy Design Awards highlights some of the best talent that the platform has to offer. They also provide a unique insight into the products driving this retail success story, and by extension, answering the question, “what does today’s customer want?”
Hazel Oliver runs Badger and Birch, a UK-based home wares business that was selected as a finalist in the Etsy Design Awards for her terrazzo shell vase (pictured above). Her designs are created using waste oyster and mussel shells from restaurants that would otherwise end up in landfill, and setting them in resin to create unique items.
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These special pieces perfectly sum up the Design Awards, that honour creativity and craft across a variety of disciplines. With a wide variety of businesses represented in the Design Awards, from a stool made of woven birch bark to a hand-gilded mirror or an embroidered wildflower gown, the emphasis is firmly on items that stand out.
As Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert and Etsy Design Awards 2021 judge explains “each seller has a compelling story and has created or curated something uniquely special.”
She continues: “In an age of social media sharing, shoppers are increasingly looking for unique and one-of-a-kind items that stand out from the crowd. And more than ever, today’s customer is shopping with their values in mind, whether that’s buying from a small business, shopping sustainably, or supporting a specific community.”
Oliver agrees “Many of my customers buy because they have a personal link with my makes. Many are nostalgic for the beach… and enjoy the uniqueness of the oyster and mussel shells in my pieces.”
Part of the success story for Etsy throughout the pandemic has been driven by the customer’s desire to support entrepreneurs and independent brands.
“Etsy is home to millions of small businesses, and shoppers know that when they buy from Etsy they’re buying something from a real person and supporting people in local communities all over the world,” elaborates Johnson.
Oliver agrees, calling the last year and a half a “roller coaster”. “There was a huge boost for independents as people supported local and small businesses where they could. It allowed me to grow, become more productive and take on assistance for the studio” she explains.
Far from abating, it seems that this support for independents and a resurgence of love and respect for craft continues to grow.
“While our world is becoming increasingly more automated and mass-produced, the passion and love that these creative entrepreneurs pour into their small businesses cannot be understated.” says Johnson. With more and more customers looking to buy into and support this passion, it’s clear that the sustainability and skill being employed by this year’s finalists is just what today’s customer wants.