As consumers look for ways to relieve stress through creativity, adult coloring books have taken the nation by storm, populating Amazon's list of best-selling books and popping up in marketing efforts for Timberland and other brands. And no, it's not just a millennial obsession. "Although millennials are driving the growth, the handmade movement is a trend that touches all generations," noted NPD Group analyst Leen Nsouli.
"We carry 150 coloring book titles now, and we've seen a great customer response—so great that we've pushed out into other surfaces that people can color on: T-shirts, playhouses and canvases," said Stephen Carlotti, evp of marketing at Michaels Craft Stores. "We see great opportunity going forward as long as we continue to innovate."
But when the coloring book trend fades, what products could take its place? Here are five contenders, according to retailers.
Craft kits like Target's Hand Made Modern, which launched in 2015 and include instructions and materials to make hand-stitched photo frames, felt owls, wooden jewelry boxes and fabric flowers, have been a hit with consumers, said Amy Goetz, spokesperson for Target. "Crafting is a huge trend, and we know people gravitate toward activities that ignite their creativity."
Added Megan Hartman, strategy director at Red Peak Branding: "To achieve the mass success that coloring books have, you have to have something that's quick and easy. Craft kits are creativity with a template."
Sales of personalized planners at Michaels grew on the heels of the coloring book phenomenon, Carlotti said. "Coloring books and planners have a lot of similarities," he said. "People personalize planners. They'll add stickers and embellishments, but there's not a right or wrong way to do it, just like coloring."
Painting nights and craft classes
Crafting as a social activity, including painting nights and websites like CourseHorse, which offer a variety of crafting and art classes in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, will continue to expand, according to NPD Group. "There's a huge trend in private craft parties, but also corporate ones, as a way of building community and destressing," added Natalie Pirveysian, founder of DIY blog and L.A.-based craft party company Crème de la Craft.
Meditation and mindfulness books
Alex Perruzzi, vp of gift and product development at Barnes & Noble, says books that focus on meditation and mindfulness have become more popular. "The mindfulness aspect of adult coloring drove the trend in the beginning," he said. "People latched on to the idea that this simple activity could help you rest your mind, become more productive and get you away from the world of technology. Meditation has a lot of legs, and it's growing every day."
Yarn-wrapped letters are big sellers at Michaels, according to Carlotti. "People like coloring because it has a low barrier to entry," he said. "You can personalize yarn letters in different ways, and you don't necessarily have to know how to knit." Pirveysian noted that yarn as a category has great potential. "With yarn, there's so much variety—there's glitter yarn and ombre yarn and textured yarn, and because there are so many opportunities for customization, it's a category that could expand."
This story first appeared in the May 9, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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