Thought Bubble: Adult Colouring-In Books

July 21, 2015
4 min read

Many consumers have fond memories of colouring-in as a child, however the recent surge in colouring books for adults in the market could see this hobby back on consumers’ radars. Our expert analysts explore this increase in popularity and why consumers could once again be picking up the colouring pens…


img-LucyCLucy Cornford, Head of Beauty and Personal Care, Household and Lifestyles Research UK

Mintel reported on over a third of full-time workers feeling more stressed in July 2014 than they did the year before, which is likely to be amplifying interest in more innovative, yet convenient, ways to relax. The action of colouring-in has been described by psychologists as an ambient activity which allows the brain to focus without boredom or complexity, reducing stress and anxiety; a similar profile to knitting and mindfulness, which have both also grown in popularity in recent years. With rates of employment on the rise, and employees putting in longer hours, colouring-in books could therefore appeal to adults with less time, and indeed money, to visit a gym or spa to de-stress at the end of a working day.


img-PhilixLPhilix Liu, Trends Analyst China

Stress is the root cause of many health problems in Chinese cities. Consumers are commonly exposed to stress from work and in life, and find it difficult to deal with stress while also balancing work and family commitments. According to Mintel’s Marketing to the Middle Class China 2014 report, some 67% of urban Chinese consumers are willing to pay for health treatments regularly to help themselves relax, especially women (64%), higher income earners (71-72% of those who earn a monthly personal income more than RMB10,000) and those who are married with kids (63%).

Having realised the impact of high stress on people’s health, brands have come up with experiential approaches as well as product innovations to reduce stress levels, such as adult colouring books. With all the technology and nutritious food and drink products for improving physical health in the market, there is a lot of potential for brands to develop campaigns and products to achieve a balance of both physical and emotional wellbeing. For busy adults today, the best ways for relaxation can be just as simple as the fun we had in our childhood.


img-RichardCRichard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant

This is an embodiment of our Play Ethic trend, where adults are seeking to de-stress and take a break from the pressures of modern life and, in this case, I think incessant connectivity. Much like board game clubs, colouring books offer escapism, but also a tangible, sensorial slice of focus where we disconnect and enjoy the timeless appeal of some fun and creativity, but ‘get the job done’ without any digital distractions. Society no longer expects us to leave these activities behind in our childhood and I can even see restaurants extending the kid-focused draw on the tablecloth practice to adults.


img-FionaDFiona O’Donnell, US Lifestyles Category Manager

Mintel’s Arts and Crafts Consumer US 2015 report finds that 41% of people who engage in arts or crafts do so because it relieves stress and 47% do so to express themselves creatively. In addition to de-stressing and creative expression, adults today are looking for an outlet that doesn’t require too much commitment, effort, or investment. Meanwhile, competition for their attention is relentless. Constant distractions from multiple screens and responsibilities leave people with a desire to focus their attention on something that they can apply themselves to and feel good about the result.

The act of coloring also satisfies people’s desire to regress, but also to create and disconnect. This is to say, “regress,” in the sense that consumers revisit simpler times – childhood – where adult pressures to succeed, provide and impress don’t exist. Coloring reminds people of this period in their lives where they could express themselves creatively – but at the same time conform by staying within comfortable, established parameters (the lines) and if they manage to do so, they feel successful. It is a way to demonstrate that they are neat, can follow directions, and are in control – for a beautiful and tangible result.

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