The Role of Social Media and Product Differentiation in Etsy Micro-Manufacturing Shops

E. Mitchell Church, Coastal Carolina University
Richelle L. Oakley, Savannah State University


This research presents an analysis of online micro-manufacturers who sell their handmade and individually customized products by means of the Internet. Using extant literature in the areas of social media and long-tail marketing, this study develops a theoretical model of micro-manufacturing item sales success. In this model, we posit that higher average sales prices for items are associated with the dual aspects of social media proficiency and hyper-differentiation. To examine this model, we present an empirical analysis of a dataset consisting of the marketing and sales activities of 1,386 micro-manufacturers within Etsy, an online commerce platform. Results of the analysis show that micro-manufacturers who achieve greater social media recognition and those who leverage their core competencies around handmade and customized products command higher product sales prices. Therefore, our study offers insights for existing micro-manufacturers and researchers interested in examining the way that niche market micro-manufacturers achieve success online.