In May 2016, I conducted extensive market research of other Etsy.com Anglican (Protestant) prayer bead vendors in anticipation of adding Anglican prayer bead (APB) chaplets to my product line. Compared to the results of my similar 2013 market research (described in Part 1 of this series of blog posts), what I learned was both startling and enlightening.
In just three years, the number of Anglican prayer beads available on Etsy.com has jumped from 148 to over 1050, and the number of APB vendors has increased from 7 to over 75! Granted, 64% of the current vendors were offering 10 or fewer sets of APBs in their shops in May 2016; 23% were offering 11-25 APBs; and only 10 (13%) were offering over 26 APBs. I was among the latter and also among the 31% who exclusively create Anglican Prayer Beads (no Catholic rosaries, malas, etc).
Inspired, as I was, by Kimberly Winston’s 2008 APB primer Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads and Kristen E. Vincent’s similar 2013 book A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads, 21% of the current Etsy APB vendors are creating APBs with a Resurrection bead between the Invitatory and first Cruciform beads. I call this a “listening bead,” when exiting the bead pattern back to the cross, as I think it is important to listen for God’s guidance during one’s prayer time. The balance of Etsy APB vendors (79%) are creating APBs in the traditional pattern, omitting the Resurrection bead.
Due to the increased competition among APB vendors, it is not surprising that the average price of a set of APBs has come down a bit. In 2013, the average price per set was $10-40; in 2016, APBs sell for an average of $26-43/set. Given vendors’ desires to appeal to all pocketbooks, you can buy a set of APBs on Etsy for $4-6 or a set with crystals, precious gemstones, and/or solid sterling silver components for $95 or more. However, as I conveniently price all my sets at $32, I was more interested in the average price per set. Given the superior quality of my APBs and my included storage pouch, 16-page full-color instruction/prayer booklet, and lifetime restringing guarantee, I was gratified to find that my pricing is still very competitive.
This led me to consider what my competitors are including with the purchase of a set of APBs. Forty percent are providing a storage pouch, 45% are providing some sort of instructions, but only 27% are providing both. In many cases, instructions provided are just a single sheet, a bead diagram, or a single sample prayer. Only two other APB vendors offer a lifetime restringing guarantee, like I do.
Next, I researched the quality and type of construction of APBs available on Etsy. The traditional rosary-like construction (using eye pins or wire wrapping to create wire loop links) is offered by 23% of the APB vendors. Sixty percent construct their APBs using beading wire and metal crimps, and 5% offer both types of APB construction. Twelve percent use likely less durable construction materials, such as elastic cord, nylon twine, fabric cord, string, and silk lame thread. No one seems to be using the super-secure Magic Connectors (instead of metal crimps) that I use on my APBs. (See Part 1 of this series for details about Magic Connectors.) Only four other Etsy APB vendors specify that they use the softest drape (non-kinking) coated 49-strand stainless steel beading wire that I use on my APBs.
Of the 75 Etsy APB vendors researched, only 8 (11%) have a website outside of Etsy, as I do (KristiLynGlass.com). Seventeen (23%) have a Facebook presence, and 12 (16%) have an alternate web presence, such as Pinterest, Amazon, or a personal blog. Only 13 (17%) have more than one web presence outside of Etsy, as I do.
No other researched Etsy APB vendor has had an Etsy shop as long as I have. I started my Etsy shop back in 2006, although I didn’t start selling APBs until early 2013. Twenty four of my researched Etsy APB vendors opened their shops between 2007 and 2011. The biggest influx of APB vendors (50) opened Etsy shops within the past 5 years. There is no data indicating specifically when Etsy APB vendors started offering APBs for sale in their Etsy shops, but the growth in the number of APBs available on Etsy from 148 to over 1050 over the past three years strongly suggests that APB popularity is definitely on the rise and sparking intense competition.
When someone searches Etsy.com for “Anglican prayer beads”, well over 1300 results appear. When sorted by relevance, these results seem to display one product from each of the 50+ APB vendors, and then repeat that process over and over. While this is fair to the APB vendors, it makes a potential APB buyer’s search process particularly difficult. It would take someone over 12 hours to just gather all of the information I’ve presented in this series. It would take even more time to evaluate the gathered data to narrow down a search for the perfect set of Anglican prayer beads.
To begin such a search with the APB vendors who produce the most APBs, I would recommend sorting by relevancy and then begin viewing products starting with the last page of the search, instead of the first page.
To further facilitate this type of search, I offer a comparison study of the top 10 Etsy APB vendors in Part 3 of this series. To compare the above statistics with my APB market research done in 2013, see Part 1 of this series.