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; from students to parents, 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 percent in dollars over the last year, compared to a 2 percent increase the year before. It was also one of four categories that reversed unit sales declines in the last year. Finger paints, 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 different types of surfaces to paint, one trend that has caught my attention is rock painting. In 2015, Megan Murphy began The Kindness Rocks
, which encourages people to leave rocks painted with inspiring messages for others to find along their life path. Its mission is as follows: “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.” The Project also offers a school curriculum to support kindness initiatives in schools, meant to help promote a reduction in bullying and reduce stress/anxiety in children.  

The Project’s Instagram page has gained over 20K followers, with #thekindnessrocksproject and #kindnessrocksproject receiving over 60K posts and #kindnessrocks receiving over 144K posts so far. On Instagram, #paintedrocks has accumulated 242K posts. #Rockpainting and #paintedstones have another 202K and 103K 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
. To paint the rocks, consumers are using a variety of methods including 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.”

*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service/ 52 weeks ending March
2, 2019