A new primer on paint marketing

The other day, an HCN editor received an email from Cambridge -- the one in England. A senior analyst and Ph.D. was asking for an example of an adhesive, paint or sealant product that has “transformed the market.”

Two thoughts came to mind.

1.) A feeling of pride. Our readers will be glad to know that PhDs in Cambridge -- hailing from a place called “Cambridge Science Park” located on none-other than “Milton Road” -- have turned to Home Channel News. What is one to do but accept the compliment and the reputation as a go-to source for knowledge and analysis and ready examples of case studies.

2.) A blank. Couldn’t think of any examples.

But after some reflection, an example dawned on me. A couple years ago, when Masco’s Behr division introduced its Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint with its promise of “paint and primer in one,” a transformation occurred. Here was a product that was soon to be studied, imitated, criticized in some quarters, envied in others, and -- to a certain extant -- demanded at paint counters everywhere.

Footnote here: It was actually our friends at Ames Research Laboratories that were first to market with a paint-and-primer-in-one product, according to Ames’ Peter Carey. The product, Ames Paint & Prime, came out about 20 years ago. But it took Behr and its Home Depot partners to make the phrase “paint and primer in one “ a household name.

Now here’s the news flash. Sherwin-Williams this week introduced a new high-end paint in the mid-$60-per-gallon price point. The company’s VP marketing research and design Karl Schmitt used the following terms to describe the new paint: “revolutionary,” “best in class,” “game changer” and “breakthrough.”

I was ready to bet $5 that Schmitt was about to drop “paint and primer in one” to his marketing pitch. 

I would have lost. 

I brought up the omission to Sherwin-Williams’ VP product development Steve Revnew -- a man whose very name conjures the image of sales growth. He said quality, sustainability, color, consistency and performance were the goals and the buzzwords. “Paint and primer in one?” Not so much. 

“In most cases, a good primer combined with good paint works best,” he said. 

Few will disagree. But will Americans spend $60 per gallon for a new line of paint that doesn’t offer the one-coat-fits-all mold in an ultra-competitive paint market? That’s a question for those with Ph.D.s in reading the future.

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