Adults pick up their crayons and drive retail sales

Discussion
Jul 22, 2015

Adult coloring books (yes, that’s a thing) are becoming a big deal in publishing circles and it may soon become even bigger as Marvel Comics joins the category.

For background, a recent search on Amazon by RetailWire found four of the top 10 best selling books listed on the site were adult coloring books. The process of coloring, something most give up during childhood, is currently being promoted as a stress-buster for adults. Two of the books on Amazon’s top 10 played up the therapeutic angle in their titles: "Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns" and "Balance (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1)."

An article in The New Yorker recently made the case that the psychological underpinning for adult coloring books is our human need for play. Studies have shown a correlation between the amount of time we play as kids and our emotional health as we become adults. While it may not make up for being deprived of playtime as children, adults can still relieve stress with the simple act of coloring, whether it’s within the lines or not.

Regardless of the why, adult coloring books are hot sellers. Amy Yodanis, who heads up marketing for Quarto Publishing, said the publisher of "Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns" will produce 1.3 million coloring books this year, according to an Associated Press report.

Marvel coloring book

Source: Marvel

"We cannot print them fast enough," Ms. Yodanis told the AP. "We are getting orders of 60,000 at one time from some of our biggest retailers."

Marvel, which has made billions with the leap from comic books to movies, toys, games and other merchandise, is also getting in on the adult coloring book act.

"Around the world there are several other coloring books for adults hitting the bestseller lists and with Marvel being the premier graphic storytelling medium, now is the perfect time for us to join this latest book market trend," said David Gabriel, SVP sales and marketing, Marvel, in a statement last month. "With Marvel’s Adult Coloring books, fans can add their own personal style to classic Marvel stories. This truly is a way for fans of all ages to be a part of the creative process and bring their personal artistic style to these epic Marvel events."

Marvel has four adult coloring books planned, including two Avengers titles, "Age of Ultron" in October 2015 and "Civil War" (April 2016), as well as "Little Marvel by Scottie Young" (February 2016). The company is also looking to cash in with a new "Color Your Own Deadpool" adult title in January 2016 ahead of the first Deadpool movie starring Ryan Reynolds, which will have its theatrical release in February.

How can retailers best take advantage of the adult coloring book craze? Are there wider opportunities for retailers in terms of merchandising?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
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"OMG. Somehow I feel I was better off not knowing this. But since it seems to truly be a "thing," I guess retailers better stock up and play this whole thing out to the max. Meanwhile, books on the devolution of the human species should do well in some circles, too. Or is it just me?"
"My advice would be to get in the market quickly and be prepared to exit even faster. This has all the hallmarks of a fad versus a trend. Not sure how long it will last but retailers definitely don’t want to be the one left with a 60,000 piece order on its way when this crashes. Reminds me of the Raymond James cautious hat maker commercial."
"As odd as this fad sounds, I must admit that when you have kids and sit down and color/paint with them, you do realize the meditative qualities of it! No one can argue that we don’t stop and do enough mindless activity and perhaps this is simply giving people an excuse to do it."

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10 Comments on "Adults pick up their crayons and drive retail sales"


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Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
6 years 9 months ago

OMG. Somehow I feel I was better off not knowing this. But since it seems to truly be a “thing,” I guess retailers better stock up and play this whole thing out to the max. Meanwhile, books on the devolution of the human species should do well in some circles, too. Or is it just me?

Steve Montgomery
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

My advice would be to get in the market quickly and be prepared to exit even faster. This has all the hallmarks of a fad versus a trend. Not sure how long it will last but retailers definitely don’t want to be the one left with a 60,000 piece order on its way when this crashes. Reminds me of the Raymond James cautious hat maker commercial.

Tom Redd
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Get in fast and exit EARLY. These are not ADULTS — they are Millennials — a rare form of advanced 16-year-olds claiming pseudo-adulthood. I imagine we can leverage this group that is into nothing but lift-off/trend/die fast merchandising with some advanced pet rocks-style items. Like pet trash. A piece of trash you treat like pet. Special leash for walks, food, etc. Maybe a pet hairball from a cow. Large hairball for the desk?

Let them keep up the spending. I hated coloring books. Why stay inside the stupid lines!

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
6 years 9 months ago

As odd as this fad sounds, I must admit that when you have kids and sit down and color/paint with them, you do realize the meditative qualities of it! No one can argue that we don’t stop and do enough mindless activity and perhaps this is simply giving people an excuse to do it.

Agreed that this seems short term, but the brand planner in me immediately narrows in on cultural aspects to it versus the physical output of the coloring books. If people are buying these for stress busting, how can the merchant follow this culture cue to provide more stress busting products and selling themes? Tie this ideation to a deeper dive of the demographics and psychographics of these buyers and I bet there’s some rich stuff to mine.

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

The adult coloring book craze should be integrated with social media. Retailers should allow their customers to share their finished work or hold competitions or something to that effect to increase the hype.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

The process of coloring, something most give up during childhood, is currently being promoted as a stress-buster for adults.

The fad will end as soon as people realize that coloring the perfect picture doesn’t relieve stress, but adds to it.

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

A friend of ours has a charity called “The Foundation for Hospital Art.” He provides the outlined drawing and gets kids, church groups, organizations, to color them in. The art is shipped all over the world to go into hospitals that need more than just bare walls.

Yes, it was great fun. Families could bring the kids and everyone did it together. So, I can see how this fad could turn into more opportunities for adult, clean, fun.

This is what retail might want to wrap their heads around and not just the coloring book option. This will likely fade unless someone figures out how to do what John Feight has done for Hospital Art. This is not a “shameless” plug, but rather a fully earned plug, IMHO.

And that’s my 2 cents!

Karen S. Herman
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Embrace it! Smart retailers find ways to be ahead of major trends. Sounds like those who are riding this adult coloring book wave may be making great profits and gaining lifelong customers, too, simply by providing a unique opportunity to play.

I heard the author Martha Beck speak in 2009 and her words are truer today than ever. She defined storytelling and play as key qualities to succeeding in our ever changing world.

George mentions the human need to play above and whether it’s reconnecting with favorite characters in an adult coloring book or marking up stress relief patterns, Retailers who cater to the consumers needs with creative and unique stress relieving offerings will profit. And, do some greater good, too.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Brilliant! The more we are forced to be focused, the more we need time to be mindless. Gamification is big as a direct result. Coloring books for adults is a natural.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
6 years 9 months ago

Rename crayon colors to adult themes: profit green, silver bullet, jazz and blue, etc. I can’t think clearly now, but you get the idea.

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Braintrust
"OMG. Somehow I feel I was better off not knowing this. But since it seems to truly be a "thing," I guess retailers better stock up and play this whole thing out to the max. Meanwhile, books on the devolution of the human species should do well in some circles, too. Or is it just me?"
"My advice would be to get in the market quickly and be prepared to exit even faster. This has all the hallmarks of a fad versus a trend. Not sure how long it will last but retailers definitely don’t want to be the one left with a 60,000 piece order on its way when this crashes. Reminds me of the Raymond James cautious hat maker commercial."
"As odd as this fad sounds, I must admit that when you have kids and sit down and color/paint with them, you do realize the meditative qualities of it! No one can argue that we don’t stop and do enough mindless activity and perhaps this is simply giving people an excuse to do it."

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