Etsy Hopes 'More Human' Can Fend Off Tech Rivals


Etsy says it is entering a new era, recommitting itself to the seven million sellers that make the platform unique. A new ad campaign is part of that reintroduction, as well as significant changes to the support it provides to those in the Etsy community.

“Today, in a world with more automation and generic goods than ever, our mission to keep commerce human has never been more important,” writes Josh Silverman, the Brooklyn-based company’s chief executive officer, in the announcement.

Those include new creativity standards, which have been made more critical by the rise of generative AI. “We recognize that, in today’s world, makers almost always use tools to bring their creativity to life,” he adds.” Sculptors and painters use chisels and paintbrushes; furniture makers use power tools; and many artists today use digital tools, such as computer-aided and 3D-printing techniques, print-on-demand tools, and, most recently, Gen AI tools to bring human ideas into visual form. The common thread that weaves through all of the creative goods allowed on Etsy is human imagination and involvement. We are, and will remain, the marketplace for original items from real people.”



The company’s new ad campaign reinforces that message and promises to turn up the volume on the importance of human creativity. One spot-- think of it as an anti-tech ad -- focuses on robots' chilly, faceless role in manufacturing. Other ads star real Etsy sellers and their unique items, whether making furniture, blowing gas or stitching up vintage clothes.

Ads will air on multiple channels and streaming channels in the U.S. and U.K., as well as during the summer Olympic games.

Orchard created the ads, and the 360-degree marketing campaign also includes sellers shown on New York and London billboards.

The company says the point is to remind consumers that Etsy is about self-expression, creativity, quality craft and human connection. 

“Our sellers are the heart of our marketplace, and their unique human touch is what makes Etsy, Etsy,” writes chief marketing officer Brad Minor in a blog post introducing the campaign. “We encourage you to explore their stories and join us as we celebrate the individuality, creativity, and the meaningful connections that make every purchase on Etsy special.”

The changes come following rough times for Etsy, including declining sales and layoffs. And while Etsy competes with many ecommerce platforms, industry observers note increasing pressure from Temu, the Chinese ecommerce juggernaut.

“Organic traffic for Temu continues to rise and is on pace to surpass Etsy in the coming months,” writes Seth Basham, who follows ecommerce for Wedbush, in a recent note on web traffic. Etsy got 848 million visits in the tracking period, compared to Temu’s 1.05 billion. He adds: “For Etsy, Temu’s growing share of ecommerce traffic increases the risk that the ecommerce site crowds out a growing portion of consumers’ limited spending on non-essential durables.”

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