oteIn 2008, ACCESS Development Services, in collaboration with ‘All India Artisans and Craft workers Welfare Association’ (AIACA) and Dutch organization ‘Women on Wings’ put together a new marketing initiative “Ode to Earth”.

 As a culmination of a long term well structured process, ACCESS organized the niche market event for 63 NGOs/Producer Groups interested in exploring the possibilities of marketing their handicraft products through Ode to Earth. The exclusive marketing event, held for three days from the 11th to 13th of November at the Ashok Hotel, New Delhi. The initiative was an attempt to enable small artisans to reach out to mainstream and high value markets by providing technical and design counsel to artisan groups, help them improve their skills, orient their products and make them aware of current contemporary market trends.

oteThrough the Ode to Earth, the grassroots artisans and crafts people found a national platform which helped to establish short and long term business links for them and provide real-time interface with buyers, helping them to understand the interests of up­market buyers in their skills and products. The process also included orientation in merchandising and display, and provided one-to-one market and communication counseling.

With a special focus on West Bengal, Rajasthan & states of the North East, and organisations were selected by a technical committee on the basis of their organization structure and products after understanding their production processes, analyzing their skills and developing a technical brief for production of the identified products. 
During & before the event, a Technical Team of designers (NID & NIFT alumni) and resource people  were associated with the producer groups / NGOs  through a series of interactive workshops, providing them counseling and expert guidance in terms of design & marketing vis-à-vis the Ode to Earth event .The aim of the workshops was to increase the capacity of the craft producer groups to better meet the challenges of the changing markets at hand, by assisting them to create products that could meet market standards in terms of design, quality, production capacity, pricing and competitiveness. It also provided an orientation to national exhibition, the experience of working along with seasoned designers who helped them gain the confidence of catering to large orders and  proved as good platforms for exchange of ideas.

oteWomen on Wings, Dutch specialists in marketing and communication held a two day Market of Knowledge for the participants in developing and orienting their products to mainstream urban markets. 
A technical team consisting of design and marketing professionals advised the groups on products, production, product orientation, and supply chain issues through a market readiness process.  
The purpose was to share knowledge and experience with Indian organizations, the experts trained participants and gave presentations on issues such as branding, visual merchandising, effective communication, product development, setting up supply chains, visual identity, visual merchandising.

The exhibition, held at the lawns at Hotel Ashoka, New Delhi attracted various customers and buyers over the three days interested in providing long term support to these artisans. The presentation, design and variety of products was formulated in a way to provide inspiration for business. The delicate open air exhibit was designed in white by designerThe Goodearth, with a team of expert visual merchandisers helping each group individually in showcasing their products unusually.   It provided an opportunity to the participating and artisans, many of who were participating in a national event for the first time, to have a direct interface with market, receive focused inputs on developing marketing strategies and hence ensuring long term development for the rural artisans and their craft.

 Nearly 3000 customers visited the exhibit over the three days along with various product sourcing teams from established stores and designer labels, resulting in generating extremely good onsite sales and large orders. The products and the huge variety got an extremely positive response from the visitors with many repeat customers as most of the artisans were first time participants and had got products especially tweaked and modified hence adding novelty to the usual goods on shelves in the Delhi market!

To ensure greater footfall during the Ode to earth marketing event, ACCESS provided good advertisement and publicity with personalized invites, online advertising and good print & media coverage. Media channels like NDTV-Metropolitan Nation, CNB IBN and Dainik Bhaskar provided national coverage to the event & promoted it as an exclusive event for the niche collectors of hand crafted products.

Being at a common platform at the event, people from the handicraft sector came together and had the opportunity to recognize the challenges and the changes required vis-a- vis the design & quality aspect of the existing products. It also helped the artisan groups in defining their identity in an extremely competitive marketplace, making their business more effective and viable.