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Crafters generally like the results they obtain with their Cricut machine and cartridges, but many find the device and add-ons expensive. A percentage of commenters also have buyer’s remorse: they swallow hard and buy the machine, which they consider expensive, then don’t use it enough to justify the cost.

About Cricut

Cricut is a product from Provo Craft and Novelty, a company that provides products for crafters. Here’s how the Cricut website describes the product: “Cricut® personal electronic cutters allow you to get amazing creative results with the touch of a button. Cricut machines with the Cricut cartridges cut beautiful designs and alphabets for card making, home décor, scrapbooking, paper crafting, and more.”

Positive Themes

Crafters like the range of Cricut cartridges, citing special favorites like “American Alphabet,” “Florals,” and “Baby Boutique.”

  • I LOVE the Cricut American Alphabet, although it was a tough decision! Can’t wait to see your other projects! (source)
  • Here is a card that I made a couple of weeks ago. I used the new Baby Boutique cricut imagine cartridge. I love this cartridges. I only wish that there was more images on the cartridge, but it’s still super cute! (source)
  • I LOVE the Cricut Florals Embellished, definitely my favorite one!! I use a lot of florals in my cards and layouts. I think it adds that extra special touch. (source)

Consumers like being able to use the Cricut for a range of design projects.

  • I use our cricut for so many things!!! Vinyl lettering and etching are my favorite by far. I love seeing what you come up with cause it’s always so cute! (source)
  • What a beautiful layout. I love the subtle differences between the boys and girls pages. And your Cricut work is wonderful. Those pictures do look professional. Great work. (source)

Users like the “Function” of the Cricut machine and find it “Easy to Use.”

  • Funny – is it the die cut one or the sticker making one? I don’t have one of those. I love my cricut for words and letters and my cuddlebug for embossing. (source)
  • My card is pretty simple… I followed the rules : three patterned papers, all from a really old stash of Doodlebug papers .I used my cricut to cut the labels for the sentiment ( SU) , a little bit of silver cord for the bow and a snowflake brad and that’s it!!!! I think it took me a whopping 15 minutes to make this card!!!! So now I’m off to enjoy this lovely spring evening…. (source)

Negative Themes

“Cost” was the biggest negative theme, with people talking most about the “Cartridge Cost.”

  • Can someone point me in the direction of the tutorials and free files to download? Is it worth while to buy a Cricut when I already have a Wishblade? Thanks Angela I agree 100% with Ginger that I would not buy the Cricut. Even if you get the machine at a steal you have to pay way too much in Cartridges, design SW, etc. If you want a bigger machine go with the KNK Grove. (source)
  • I was talking to a friend regarding our recent conversation on here about die cutters, and the desirable cricut being expensive, and the add ons just making it a bit TOO much for most of us … And that the mannual die cutters arent so great for lots of us either due to their stiffness… She asked me what sort of things I personally am buying at the moment, and I said, well mostly papers, ribbons and adhesives. (source)
  • It’s perfect for me! I know there are a lot of Halloween-y designs on it, but I mostly want it for the quirky monsters so I can make different monster cards (there is a “card” feature on this cartridge!).  I‘d buy it, but Cricut cartridges are SOOOO expensive! The usual price for cartridges is $89.99, but even the $49.99/$39.99 sale price they sometimes have is still a little pricey for me (I’m too frugal for my own good sometimes) (source)
  • This makes me wonder about the consistency and quality of the pre-made sheets they sell. I am shocked at how expensive the sugar gum paste is ($18 for a package of three 10ױ0 sheets) and how limited the colors Provo Craft offers are. In short, I find myself understanding how some Cricut customers love the products, but have strong negative feelings about the expense of it all. On the up-side, my young children loved decorating their treats with the shapes and were able to be involved in the process. For them to be so involved was fun for all of us, and a definite plus for the Cricut Cake machine. (source)

Some knowledgeable consumers think the Cricut is “overpriced” (which is different from “expensive.”)

  • Similar companies are Wall Words and Uppercase Living. Thank you.  The Cricut is overpriced and very limited in ability for what you want to do. (I owned a vinyl shop for 10 years and cringe whenever I see that informercial) Depending on your budget, you can get very affordable cutters / plotters on eBay for about $600.00. (Just search for “vinyl cutter” and you’ll get lots of results…some even come with software).

“Rarely used” was the subject of many negative posts.

  • Good for you! I wish I used mine more. I feel so guilty that I spent so much on it, [Cricut expression] but hardly ever use it.
  • I don’t have the Cricut Design Studio yet. In fact, I hardly use my Cricut because I have to drag it out of the closet and it becomes a hassle. Although I’m very tempted to get the Design Studio because I think I would use it more to cut digi templates. So this leads me to my question…..how often to you use your Design Studio? (source)

“Software” issues also annoy consumers. (These posts are about third-party software, which many users like, but which Cricut does not support.)

  • I will never buy another Cricut again! I’m so mad because PC [Provo Craft] managed to ban the third party software, SCAL & MTC, so I will be buying a Silhouette ASAP! If you buy a Cricut, you will be limited to their cartridges & their creativity.
  • Please help!!! I have had my cricut expression for a couple of months now and was ready to take the dive and purchase SCAL. The only version to buy was 3 but cricut does not support it. If you do not already own SCAL 1 or 2 then you are up a creek. Does anyone know of any other software program for cricut besides the design studio?

Insights

Cricut machines range from $179 to $349, and the cartridges range from $35 to $60. But Provo Craft (PC) does offer less expensive, lighter-duty machines, like the Cuttlebug and Gypsy. A useful PC website feature might be a table that compares products by price, features, and intended usage levels to help buyers decide which machine best fits their craft goals and budget.

The strategy of Cricut regarding its cartridge pricing follows the Razor Blade Model—a common pricing scheme where you give away the razor handle for free and charge for the blades. (For more detail, see this Wikipedia entry.) Printer companies do this and make a lot of money on cartridges. While MBAs love to apply the razor blade model, apparently in this case consumers hate it. It also puts PC in a precarious position to be disrupted. Disruption is an innovation term (from Clayton Christensen) where a low-price upstart comes along with an inferior product and pushes the incumbent out of the market by grabbing share at the low-end, then improving the product to the point that they can take over the main part of the market. (More info on disruptive innovation here.) This is starting to happen with printer cartridges: I just bring my empty cartridges to Walgreens and get them refilled. Not as good as a new one, but it’s cheaper and I feel better about it (environmentally).

As we’ve noted in other netnographies, consumers may find something expensive, but still believe it represents good value for the money. In the case of the Cricut, it seems that the people who buy the machine and use it a lot are satisfied—they feel it delivers value. As you’d expect, those who buy it and don’t use it much don’t feel that way. And then there are consumers on a tight budget who covet a Cricut, but feel it’s just too expensive. Again, maybe more guidance from the company could boost sales by directing budget-minded buyers to lower-priced machines. Perhaps these less-expensive machines could even be positioned as entry-level or introductory Cricut machines that enable crafters to get a feel for the benefits without making such a large initial investment. Then, if the crafter uses the machine a lot and wants to step up to another, heavier-duty model with more features, they can do so with confidence.

The decision not to support third-party software is understandable, but does have a down side. A closed universe of add-ons (design software and cartridges) preserves revenue for PC, but limits the creative options for users to the designs PC develops. Unfortunately, it also earns the company some ill will when they lock out later versions of software that used to be compatible with their devices. Maybe the company could steer a middle course where they don’t support third-party software but also don’t take steps to make it incompatible. That “open” model could help the company keep or acquire customers who want to use the Cricut but with software from another vendor.

Cricut’s policy toward third-party software relates to the idea of Lead User Innovation. Another innovation thinker, Eric von Hippel, teaches manufacturers to embrace the creativity of users because they know their needs better than manufacturers, who traditionally hate it when consumers modify their products. “That voids your warranty!” they’ll shout. But some smart manufacturers have started to embrace it. Two examples are Lego Mindstorm and more recently the Microsoft Kinect.  It’s evident that Cricut is taking the traditional, albeit antiquated, approach of trying to innovate for their customer. This comment from a Cricut customer puts in consumer’s words what Eric von Hippel has been saying for a long time: “If you buy a Cricut, you will be limited to their cartridges & their creativity.”

About Our Approach

This case study is a form of social media analysis called a netnography—a qualitative, interpretive research methodology that adapts the traditional, in-person ethnographic research techniques of anthropology to the study of online communities.

To write this netnography, NetBase analyzed thousands of posts from consumers about the brand. The posts are automatically sorted into Positive or Negative classifications by our natural language processing (NLP) engine, then we manually sample those posts.

To summarize a netnography as we’ve done here, we distill our findings into useful insights about how the brand we studied is positioned and perceived. We can provide our source data and confidence intervals for the percentages in the theme charts upon request.

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