Agoracom Blog

A Finnish coloring app helps 4 million Americans ‘fight stress and anxiety’ – and it’s a smash hit #Kuuhubb $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 5:06 PM on Monday, February 26th, 2018

  • Finnish app Recolor is seizing a 3D coloring app craze in the US.
  • Popular among young women, Recolor frequently ranks among the top 100 grossing apps in the US.
  • “People are tired of gaming, they want interaction,“ says a Recolor investor, noting a lessening interest in games.
  • Recolor’s growth paints a picture of shifting app demographics, use and monetization in the Entertainment category. 

Smartphones aren’t generally seen as relaxation devices.

But if you ask Tero Kuittinen, an investor in viral coloring app called Recolor, that’s changing: It’s indeed the pursuit of relaxation that has gotten millions of Americans hooked on the app and its myriad motifs ranging from Venice Carnivals to My Little Pony.

“Coloring app appeal is in stress relief – they are used to alleviate anxiety,” says Kuittinen, whose New York-based investment firm, Kuuhubb, recently bought Recolor’s parent app studio, Sumoing.

Recolor has tapped into a veritable explosion in the digital coloring space. Since its launch in 2015, the Finnish app has gained more than four million users in the US and is now making north of $1 million per month from a clique of paying users – mostly college-educated women aged 18 to 44.

Recolor’s founder Ilkka Teppo has said he wants to create the ‘Spotify of colouring books’ with millions of illustrations. Recolor (collage)

‘The most diverse place in App Land’

Nordic gaming hits like Candy Crush and Minecraft may still top app charts, but in the past two years, the rise of apps that enable users to paint, sing, decorate has been total.

Coloring in particular: According to Sumoing founder Ilkka Teppo – whose team found their first global hit in Recolor after picking up on how attached their wives were to coloring books – the niche is fast supplementing games in the US.          “[Coloring] is entertainment, but with a more creative touch. It’s not about competition, but creativity and relaxation,” Teppo told GoodNewsFromFinland earlier.

Gaming app sessions declined 16 percent last year versus a 43 percent surge in the ‘Music, Media and Entertainment’ category, according to Yahoo-owned database Flurry. Flurry

Between January 2015 and March 2016, coloring app downloads in the US went from nearly zero to 10,5 million, LA Times, citing Nielsen research, reported. The growth has kept pace: according to AppAnnie, during many days last December, the US iPad Top 5 charts featured three coloring apps.

“I think people are growing tired of passive gaming; they want interaction and use their phones to create things,“ says Kuittinen, whose Recolor and its main rival Colorfy have captured most growth.

Read More: ‘Color by numbers’ apps are dominating the App Store right now

And it’s a fast-developing market with new trends and features popping up constantly: “Community building, color-by-numbers, and now, 3D coloring booming since the end of January,” Kuittinen, an app industry veteran, says. “This space is like the Galápagos Islands. The most dynamic and diverse place in App Land.”

Coloring is just one part of Kuuhubb’s bigger strategy of investing in a fast-growing category of lifestyle apps for women; it also recently acquired interior design app Neybers.

Shortly after launching an Instagram-inspired redesign of the app in early February, Recolor went from 130th to 17th place on the US iPad Appstore, surging past YouTube and Spotify. Recolor

Finland’s next big app sensation?

Recolor, which estimates it will have 1 billion tasks completed in its app 2018, has not only managed to make women addicted to its myriad coloring tasks – it’s also pulling in major advertisers. In contrast to “the outmoded” and “static” state of the gaming app industry, Kuittinen says, the creative app revolution opens up new ad opportunities.

For example, Lionsgate’s recent ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ ad campaign in Recolor involved sponsored movie trailers, banner ads and sponsored ad tasks. This way “people will spend a good ten minutes inside the brands’ visual universe,” Kuittinen says. Recolor’s next big growth market, India, will by contrast depend almost entirely on influencers.

With its well-educated female core demographic, Recolor has attracted brand partners like Disney, Cosmopolitan and Lionsgate. Cosmopolitan / Recolor

Besides its growing ad business, Recolor’s other trump card in the “global war” playing out among hundreds competing apps, is advanced technology: “Our 3D pictures recreate the transparency of glass, the gloss of metal; lights and shades,” Kuittinen says.

After Supercell’s hit ‘Clash of Clans’, could Finland’s next big app sensation be a digital coloring book?

Recolor, facts

Launched: August, 2015

Developed by: Sumoing Oy (founded by Ilkka Teppo)

Monthly Active User base: 5 million, of which 80% in the US

User demographics: 85% women, 15% men

Monthly Revenue: +$1 million, mostly subscriptions

Revenue (2016):  $4-5 million

Coloring tasks completed: 200 million per quarter


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