Trend can provide solid gain to art/office supply sales
By Leen Nsouli
Consumers have found several social and stress-reducing benefits through participating in popular activities such as adult and family coloring as well as DIY Slime. Both of these trends have transcended age groups—younger and older consumers alike enjoy these activities, with an educational component woven into the experience.
In recent years, coloring and slime-making have been catalysts for growth within the U.S. office supplies industry, driving up sales of products including colored pencils and glue (a main ingredient for homemade slime). In the last two years, the growing popularity of art and painting-related activities has also boded well for the industry. According to NPD’s retail sales data, fine-art watercolor sales grew 16% in dollars over the last year, compared to a 2% increase the year before. It was also one of four categories that reversed unit sales declines in the last year. Fingerpaints, fine-art watercolors, construction paper, and tracing paper have all experienced rejuvenated unit sales growth, after declines the prior year. Other categories that are picking up steam include watercolor paper and large paper rolls.
As consumers experiment with painting different surfaces, one trend is rock painting. In 2015, Megan Murphy began The Kindness Rocks Project, which encourages people to leave rocks painted with inspiring messages for others to find along their life path. Its mission: “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.” The program also offers a school curriculum to support kindness initiatives in schools, meant to help reduce bullying and stress/anxiety in children.
The Kindness Rocks Project’s Instagram page has gained over 20,000 followers, with #thekindnessrocksproject and #kindnessrocksproject receiving over 60,000 posts and #kindnessrocks receiving over 144,000 posts so far. On Instagram, #paintedrocks has accumulated 242,000 posts. #Rockpainting and #paintedstones have another 202,000 and 103,000 posts, respectively. Other related hashtags include #paintedrocksofinstagram, #paintedstoneofinstagram, #rockhunting, #pebbleart, and several others.
Every state and some countries have Facebook and community groups created around Kindness Rocks, with some groups having thousands of members. Methods consumers are using to paint the rocks include acrylic paint, paint markers and pens, and permanent and color markers. As individuals find these painted rocks while out and about, they post a picture to their community groups or on their social channels.
Similar to the benefits offered through activities such as coloring and DIY slime, rock painting is another outlet for consumers to collectively participate in an activity that connects them to each other and supports the kindness initiative through the process. With spring underway, summer fast approaching, and back-to-school season down the road, this is a trend to watch. As the saying goes, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always.”
Leen Nsouli is executive director, industry analyst for research firm The NPD Group.