During my B-school days, I came across "Customer-mapping" / "taste mapping" again and again. In a sentence it is a tool to analyze the customers, where they come from, what their buying preferences are. The idea is to "predict" the future buying trends and in a way predict the market.
Remember the "what you dos" and "who you ares" on credit card forms or magazine forms? Well, they are used to "chart" or "map" customers. And also draw correlation between seemingly unrelated activities. For example "bar fights are mostly started by men wearing cuff links." Or "Women over 40 buying Red Chanel lipstick mostly carry a Blackberry". (These two are just sentences I conjured up, NOT industry based data....but you get the picture). Although these may seem as unrelated activities, you will be surprised to hear how important data like these is to big companies.
Why I am talking of all this with regards to Etsy? Because Caterina Fake joined Etsy in Aug 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
And she launched "Hunch" "a site that is building the "taste graph" of the internet, mapping every user on the internet to every entity, and their affinity for that entity" in June 2009.
When all the hullabooloo with Etsy becoming a "social" network etc started, I just knew that Etsy will become another "hunch" like site. Don't ask me....how I just had a a"hunch"...heeehaw.
Look at the Hunch homepage : http://hunch.com/
See how similar it is to the new Etsy homepage : http://www.etsy.com/31
(you need to log out if you are already logged in).
Etsy says that "We need a homepage designed specifically for new visitors, with a new design that is clearly aimed at keeping them on the site." The new site will throw items at them that is based on the taste test.
As individual sellers, I am not sure how much it will help us. For example, I want ALL new visitors to be bead buyers and T shirt seller wants T-shirt buyers and a soap seller wants soap buyers. But the new home page may or may not throw out beads or T-shirts or soaps right?? To be honest I am not sure if supplies will be suggested AT ALL!! I have noticed that Etsy NEVER features a Supplies seller, or supplies in the finds or any Storque article. In spite of the fact that supplies are by far the biggest earners for Etsy.
So it is my honest opinion that the new page benefits Etsy as a whole, and is not beneficial to us individual sellers.