Handicraft industry in Kashmir is known for its artistic history of its own which is rich and unique. Instead of having potentialities this industry is suffering from sharp decline in its exports business as well as at local level. This is mainly because of the rapid change in consumer preferences and tastes, inadequate advertising and publicity, unremunerative pricing, untapped zones, increased prices of raw materials, electricity supply, tough competitions in the world market from efficient countries is the major threat to the age old craft. Recently Government strongly pledged to sustain the prestige of craft industry and its ensuing development, in form of immense endowment to facilitate craft makers and the entrepreneurs with various amenities designed to bolster craft industry in Kashmir. Industry contribution cannot be neglected in giving employment to a large number of artisans from generation to generation. Kashmir is of diverse cultures and traditions and offered a number of exquisite arts and craft to the whole globe for several centuries, its craft culture is world renowned for its beauty, purity, dignity, style and designs. It is so vast, complex and colourful, and yet with a simplicity and charm, difficult to attain under comparable conditions. It is a fact that Kashmiri Handicrafts have very ancient origin and of high quality. Popularity of Handicrafts cannot be neglected as Kashmir is one of the major suppliers of handmade crafts such as wood art, hand-knotted textiles, leather goods, stoneware, sculpture, jewellery and antique. There is every possibility to increase its share in the world market if proper developmental, promotional, social and legal measures are taken. Consumers tastes, preferences, lifestyle has modernised in the sense that there is complete transformation in their need in house decoration, household equipments needs or apparels. The market’s demands are basically consumer centric rather than product centric which is more or less in the line of global consumers. That has adversely affected some age old traditional crafts. But the positive opportunities which arose cannot be neglected.
Different Market research strategies needs to be considered like market orientation, competition, technology, latest trends, consumer’s demand and preferences. The issue of quality consciousness needs to be taken care of as poor quality of products affects the demand in the market.
• Market orientation is the key strategy to have a good understanding of consumer needs and wants. This helps the marketers to market effectively to them. Knowledge of the market allows marketers to build emotional appeal into ads to fetch more business.
• It is important for the marketer to have sound understanding of the demand pattern of the consumers. Understanding of the consumer tastes and preferences, market dynamics, market channel, price fluctuation and value addition possibility which help them to develop market base based on market realities.
• Kashmiri handicrafts especially rural crafts no doubt is unique in itself but the makers keep on making the same age old pattern which do not attract consumers. A differential strategy rather than focused will help the situation.
• Entrepreneurs should rely on minimized operational strategies while considering quality, uniqueness and innovation as important in their marketing efforts.
• Government has its main focus towards this particular sector as there are a number of schemes, projects and programmes available to overcome many of the challenges. The information should reach the artisans in a channelized manner on existing services, as well as advice on how to access them.
• Targeted and ongoing campaigns among other levels of society can create new opportunities.
Conclusion: Handicrafts exhibits country’s historical past- heritage, customs, practices, rituals, ceremonies and observance. Kashmiri Handicrafts remarkably performance in the world market created many admirers but in domestic market the picture needs to be corrected. Measures have to be taken to improve the marketing settings of the sector. Retailing outlet should be attractive to fetch more and more customer. Product’s centric approach should be replaced by Customer centric approach. Different Market research strategies needs to be considered like market orientation, competition, technology, latest trends, consumer’s demand and preferences. The issue of quality consciousness needs to be taken care of as poor quality of products affects the demand in the market.
(The author is a doctoral fellow at Kashmir University. Views are her own, firstname.lastname@example.org)