The Experiential Power of Adult Coloring Books

Walk into any Barnes & Noble these days and you’ll notice a storefront display of the biggest publishing craze of the decade – adult coloring books.

They’re everywhere. From book stores to dollar stores, from craft stores to liquor stores, they’re taking over by storm (Okay, I lied about the liquor store part. But you get the point). The books are mesmerizing, filled with pictures of mandalas, gardens, and tropical birds. Even Grumpy Cat and Harry Potter have their own books because, well, do you need a reason? They’re a dream come true for anyone who enjoys a good craft, and we’re obsessed.

TopSellers-01But where is this coming from? Why are we so excited about pigmenting blank spaces with crayons? It’s not the art we create that makes coloring so alluring. Sure, we can hang our Hogwarts picture on the fridge with pride and share it with all our friends on Facebook, but that’s not the real reason we’re obsessed with coloring, is it? No. It’s not.

The answer is simple: it’s stress.

We’re working longer hours, we’re living and breathing technology, and we’re making less and less time for ourselves. Mintel Research reports 41% of Americans who engage in arts and crafts do so because it relieves stress and 47% do so to express themselves creatively. We’re looking for an escape from a chaotic world, and it seems like coloring might be a solution.

We can binge-watch Downton Abbey for nine hours and not feel guilty about it because, hey look, I’m coloring at the same time, which makes the guilt go away. We can put down our phones and revisit simpler times – childhood. We can productively use our brains without having to focus on the stressors in our lives.

Coloring is the perfect way to unwind because it offers something technology cannot – relief, mindfulness, and the opportunity to think creatively while sipping on a glass of merlot.

This, my friends, is experiential marketing in its simplest form. We’re not just buying a paper-back book full of black and white images. We’re buying an experience that allows us to escape from a stressful, digital-laden environment. Friends gather together to color and watch Netflix, hospital patients use coloring as a form of therapy, and working moms whip out their coloring books after a long day of sitting in front of a computer screen.

Having realized consumer’s desire for relaxation and tranquility, big brands like Oreo, Barnes & Noble, and Ikea have already initiated experiential campaigns surrounded on the coloring book trend. And as the trend becomes more and more popular, I have a feeling more and more brands will jump on the coloring book bandwagon to create stress-reducing activations of their own.

In the meantime, I’ll be coloring in my basement with my dog and a bottle of wine. Cheers!


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