Coloring and Craft-Related Products Sales are Booming: NPD  4/10/2017

I've always been into watercolor painting, and have been pretty good at it, despite my not knowing how to really use the medium. After a Wine & Canvas session at one of ECRM's EPPS meetings last year, I decided to take some formal lessons, which I did the end of last year (Okay, I may have skipped a few due to business engagements, but you can see the results of some of my newbie efforts below -- please don't laugh).

Along with my renewed interest in painting came the supplies -- both the supplies I purchased for the art class, as well as those my parents gave me as a gift this past Christmas. And according to recent research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, the double-digit sales growth seen across coloring and art related categories suggests that I'm not alone in pursuing this new hobby, and that these items may be joining the chocolate bunnies and stuffed animals in Easter baskets this year.

“Today’s art and handmade movement is positively impacting office supplies sales," said Leen Nsouli, director, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group. "This is leading to a higher rate of engagement by consumers in the market with traditional office and school supply items. Children and adults alike are sharing in these trends – participating individually, socially, and as a family – and I believe this creativity will influence families as they design Easter baskets for children and young adults this year.”

Here are some of the trends reported by NPD:

  • Start with the Basket: Washi tape has become a well-known staple in creative wrapping, crafting, and décor. Dollar sales grew by 41 percent in the 52 weeks ending February 25, 2017, and actual unit sales more than doubled. Consumers are buying tape with patterns, logos, and designs, with those sales up 31 percent. These tapes are being used conjointly with gift wrapping, journaling, planner personalization, poster-making, and more.
  • Join the Coloring Craze: Colored pencil sets and coloring pages experienced the highest dollar sales growth in the industry during this time. Sales grew by $49.2 million (+27 percent)—outpacing total industry gains—and $39.7 million (+26 percent), respectively. The coloring trend has also positively impacted pen and marker sales; traditional pens and color and permanent markers grew a combined $45.4 million. Spring-related colors including green, purple, and violet were among the traditional pen colors experiencing the highest percent growth.
  • Make a Splatter: Painting and paint supply category sales are also reaping the benefits of creative expression, driven by acrylic paint, which comprises one-third of category sales; paintbrush pens, which grew its sales by 47 percent; and painting accessories – the second largest category.
  • Add an Unexpected Twist: Beyond the canvas, consumers are utilizing planners and notebooks as an outlet for personalization or creative expression. Coinciding with the addition of coloring pages and other personalized features, appointment book/planner sales grew by 9 percent and select notebooks by 8 percent – a combined increase of $39.8 million in one year.
“Consumers are becoming highly accustomed to a level of customization across product categories, services, and marketing communication that has never existed and before," added Nsouli. "The need to feel unique and express that through personalized products and experiences is having an influence across industries, and office supplies is no exception. Industry players who are not taking advantage of these trends are missing out. Manufacturers and retailers are already interacting with consumers on a daily basis through social media outlets, and this presents an opportunity to also play a part in shaping the next big trend. To be successful in today’s competitive retail environment, it’s crucial for industry players to think outside of the basket.”

While I no longer get Easter baskets, perhaps I'll try my hand at painting one full of eggs. After all, painting spherical objects was one of the classes I didn't skip!

Meet with buyers and sellers of school, home office and craft supplies at our upcoming EPPS -- click the ad below for more info and to register!

This painting, done during a Wine & Canvas event held at an ECRM EPPS, renewed my interest in watercolors.
Here is one from a class exercise -- a sunrise (or sunset, could be either)
Another from class -- Pears

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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