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Can Crayola make coloring cool for tough-to-target tweens?

Art With Edge coloring books and kits aim to make coloring cool for older kids. (Contributed)
Art With Edge coloring books and kits aim to make coloring cool for older kids. (Contributed)

Small children love to color. It’s a well-known fact.

Give a kid a crayon or marker and she will color on anything – a wall, the table, a sibling, an older cousin’s comic book collection and hopefully even a coloring book.

The youngsters have always been a key demographic for Forks Township’s Crayola Inc., which produces world-famous coloring tools.

While Crayola has a wide range of products for adult artists, such as pastels and colored pencils, kids pretty much were its demographic for a large percentage of its products.

Then, a couple of years ago, a funny thing happened. Grown-ups started coloring as a stress-busting activity.

Companies started making adult-themed coloring books with more artful and intricate patterns that people could color with fine-tipped markers, colored pencils or even good old-fashioned crayons.

Suddenly, Mom wasn’t buying Crayola products for her kids, she was buying them for herself.

Wow, an entire new market opened up for Crayola, and it was a good one, said spokeswoman Erika Merklinger.

But Crayola, seeing itself as an innovator, didn’t stop with the sudden windfall of new customers. With the phenomenon of the adult coloring craze as inspiration, the company saw a new market it could tap if it could grab the ever-elusive tween market.

Tweens, generally considered 10- to 12-year-olds, and even young teens, can be a finicky bunch.

To catch their attention rather than their eye rolls, Crayola had to come up with a coloring product that wouldn’t make a tween say “ew, that’s for babies,” or “ugh, that’s boring old-person stuff,” which seem to be their two main opinions on things at that age.

“We had to bridge the gap between child and adult, where there hasn’t been a lot of content before,” Merklinger said.

The answer was a new line of coloring books and kits, which Crayola is calling “Art With Edge.”

It needed to come up with something that was “cooler” and more complicated than the coloring books the tweens left behind, but not so “fancy” they’d seem like something Mom would color or so elaborate they’d get bored.

She said to achieve that delicate balance, Crayola had to create coloring images that would appeal to the things that age group finds interesting. “Art With Edge” coloring book themes range from graffiti to super heroes and zombies.

They’re also not quite as complex as the adult patterns, while still offering a challenge and a “frame-worthy” image.

Merklinger said the average “Art With Edge” coloring page takes about an hour to complete, while a child’s can take minutes and an adult pattern could take hours to days.

The books retail for $6.99 and coloring kits for $14.99. The latter come with a set of fine-tipped markers and are now in stores.

It’s too early to tell if they’re going to be a hit or not, Merklinger said, but she added that Crayola thinks it’s going to make a mark on the hard-to-target tween market. It just has to keep its “cool.”


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