Art Products for Kids Attract Families
by Tina Manzer and Anya Harris
This holiday season, make sure parents and grandparents know where they can find value-packed, wonderful gifts for their kids – at your art materials store. It’s a great year to beef up your selection of art supplies and kits for children, and
market and merchandise the heck out of them throughout the fourth quarter. Several factors, the economy being number one, are sending adult shoppers searching for presents that are less trendy; and more meaningful, entertaining and interactive. Make their quest easy by steering them in an artistic direction.
’Tis the season to help kids create
“Adults are choosing kits at the holidays and for birthdays more often, to give their children the gift of a creative experience,” said Lisa Brody from Faber-Castell, a company that offers art kits under the Creativity for Kids brand. “From the kids’ perspective, they’re hands-on and fun.”
Iris Villegas from Roylco, a company that offers more than 600 artistic and educational products like Art-A-Roni and Plox, agrees. “Kids art products do the best in the fourth quarter, but it’s a steady category that sells year-round. With the economy the way it is, families can’t afford to go to the movies or theme parks. Instead, they stay home and do something together that’s creative and has educational value. Arts and craft kits are perfect for that.”
“The market for kids’ high-quality art products has definitely increased in the past few years because people are staying home more to save money, and looking for group activities,” said Sue Stover of Jaquard Products, makers of tie-dye kits and Tee Juice fabric marking pens. “Also, in my personal experience, I’ve seen that when there’s a surge in technology, it’s historically followed by a resurgence of handcrafts.”
What adult shoppers want in kids’ kits and Supplies
According to Villegas from Roylco, purchases of items in the kids’ art kits category include parents, grandparents and other relatives, and teachers. “Different things appeal to those different groups,” she pointed out. “Teachers look for items in bulk at economical prices. They tend to prefer open-ended activities.”
Gift-giving relatives, on the other hand, shop for small quantities for individual children, and they appreciate a structured project. “They are also looking for something they can understand, a doable activity that produces rewarding results,” Vellegas noted.
Environmentally friendly products are popular with shoppers across the board, she added. “We use recycled and recyclable materials in our products, our packaging and our shipping materials.”
Don’t forget safety. Art supplies for adults do not necessarily translate into art supplies for kids. “We offer assortment packs of supplies of paints that can be used by kids for textile painting – creating banners, that kind of thing,” said Stover. “They’re water-based for easy clean-up, and nontoxic. Safety compliance has always been part of our production process; we already have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all of our products. Our kits are being tested to comply with CPSIA and we’ve received approval for several of them already.”
High quality and lots of value also make art kits appealing. “We focus more on quality than price, but once customers use our supplies, they see the added value,” said Brody. “Colors are brighter and the products last longer.”
Villegas agrees. “Families are willing to invest time and resources in this area.”
While families make up the larger portion of the market for art kits and materials, teachers are consistent purchasers and their needs must be taken into consideration. “We offer class packs, which contain enough materials for about 30 kids,” said Stover. “Many of our kits are introductions to either a process or a particular dye or paint, so they work well for beginners of any age.”
A variety of choices at a range of price points is also attractive to adult holiday shoppers. “Our kits are able to stand out in a store because of the large selection we offer, along with high quality and good value,” noted Stover. “Most of our kits serve as an introduction to our larger product lines and our huge selection of colors.”
Finally, ease of use – including clear, accurate instructions – is the key. “We put a lot of effort into developing thorough, easy-to-follow directions,” said Brody.
Stover agreed. “We make our kits easy to use. Most people can achieve an impressive end result with them.”
Marketing and merchandising – Here Are Some Tips
Demo, demo, demo
The three manufacturers we interviewed advocate demos and classes. All provide materials, ranging from product samples to finished projects for display. To keep the momentum going, host a demo day in January for families who purchased kits as gifts for Christmas.
Display, display, display
“We’re more than happy to supply retailers with samples of dyed shirts or other projects, and we usually have endcap ideas for them as well,” noted Stover.
“Roylco can provide dealers with in-store displays,” said Villegas. “We offer a variety of promotion support, and we make sure to ask dealers how we can help them with marketing.”
“Our packaging makes a strong branding statement,” said Brody, “so merchandising our products together works well. It’s attention-getting, appealing and pulls people in.”
Be kind to kids
Children become consumers at a very young age. Make your store inviting to them, even if it’s just for the holidays. Dress up your manikins, showcase oddball completed art projects (you all have them), and set up a play area with art they can do. Parents will be more likely to return if they know their kids-in-tow will be engaged while they shop.
Expand your reach
Families are not the only users of art products for kids. Reach out to churches and vacation Bible schools, day-cares and after-school groups, people planning children’s parties, libraries, and scout groups. Make sure to market to schools at all levels. Roylco produces fliers and postcards in-house that retailers can use to market their products.
If your store includes space for classes and demos, consider hosting art-centric birthday parties.
“At the NAMTA show, I noticed that interest in our craft kits for kids is growing among traditional art materials retailers,” said Brody, summing up her take on the category. “I think it reflects their interest in pulling in new buyers and encouraging groups other than traditional artists to look at their stores in a different way.”