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The business of color

BY Ken Ryan

Hardware dealers have literally thousands of potential paint colors at their disposal — and for the homeowner seeking to translate the array of available colors into a color palette that fits her home, that makes for an arduous journey.

According to Sue Kim, color strategist for Valspar, it could take the average homeowner several months to search for the right color. “It is an overwhelming process,” she said. The good news is that hardware and building supply dealers have invested in technology and people to take advantage of a category that is forecasted to grow 3.9% annually to 1.4 billion gallons by 2019. The fastest growth is expected in the new construction segment as housing completions rise. Overall, demand for interior paint, which accounts for about two-thirds of the market, will outpace demand for exterior paint, research data shows.

Industry experts say dealers can capture more sales in an increasingly colorful market by educating their staff and by buying into the importance of the retailer-customer dynamic. Ashley Saras, marketing manager for Old Masters, maker of craftsman-quality stains and finishes, said the best advice she can pass on is to know your customer. “Learn the most you can about what your customers are looking for and the type of area you live in,” she said. “If you know what they want, you will always win the sale.”

Shannon Bearman, national paint and business development manager, Do it Best Corp., said the sheer volume of choices can frustrate people. “When the customer is standing in front of a color rack, that is the opportunity for dealers to engage the customer and ask about the project they are working on. Ask them what room is it for; find out about their personality, their likes and dislikes. It is important to find out the color of their floors and cabinets and other decor because that will determine what color scheme fits best.”

Valspar’s Kim said that as experts, “retailers are there to ask the right questions, be a listening ear, and serve as a guide through the color selection journey by helping customers narrow down color options.”

A SELLING STORY

Rachel Skafidas, assistant marketing designer, color, for Sherwin-Williams, said that the company’s research of shopping habits shows that retailers are becoming more persuasive to their customers. “Color is so personal, and retailers need to get that message across that ‘this is your home, this is your space, a place where you can express yourself.’ ”

  Kim said homeowners are looking for fresh ideas and inspiration when they walk into a retail showroom or paint studio. “It’s a perfect time for dealers to help their customers find the right color so the shopper can walk out of the store with color confidence,” she said. “Color is powerful and it can change the mood and make statements in a space. Everyone deserves to love where they live. We have numerous tools for retailers to have at their fingertips so homeowners can get the best color service in-store.”

Technology has completely revamped the way consumers select colors. Digital tools with specially designed algorithms are available today to detect things such as lighting distribution and shadows, and can automatically adjust colors consumers pick to show how they would actually look if they were painted onto a wall. In February, Sherwin-Williams rolled out its ColorSnap system, an in-store display system that groups color by family, such as red, blue and yellow, then displays color by saturation levels from bright to neutral with a new category for whites. Each color family is set on one of 24 rotating panels. By turning a panel, customers can view a curated selection of nearly 50 paint chips of specific colors. The display also features new 2-by-3-in. take-home color chips.

In March, Do it Best stores will feature a Pratt & Lambert Color Selector called Color Narrative. The system will include QR codes on the Color Narrative chips so that customers can scan and pull up a color visualizer.

Do it Best’s Bearman said today’s sophisticated digital paint selectors with QR codes allow the tech-savvy user to make the decision without the help of the retailer in some instances. “It has completely taken the fear factor out of the equation,” she noted.

Valspar, for example, offers a digital paint tool at retail locations that allows users to upload a photo of a room in their home from a smartphone — or they can choose to select a photo of an interior room from the Valspar library. “The program is designed for those who have a hard time visualizing what a paint color will look like on a wall or in an entire room,” Kim said. “Our 2016 color trend collection helps people hone in on colors that will look good in their homes no matter their style or project. We believe doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone.”

But, in fact, many consumers can do it themselves without leaving their homes. “With modern technology, anyone can look online to discover where color is going,” Old Masters’ Saras said. “Every year we follow all the color trends from fashion to flooring and everything in between. It is important for us to see where color is going. With that information, we’re able to tweak our own color line to make sure it is on point.”

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HBSDealer Stock Watch: Luck of the Irish

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Stocks were awash in a sea of green for St. Patrick's Day.

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US LBM names a VP operations

BY HBSDealer Staff

US LBM Holdings has named Dale Carlson to the role of VP operations.

Carlson is a 30-year veteran of Minnesota-based Lyman Companies, a division of US LBM, where he had served as president since 2011.

He held a number of other leadership roles with Lyman, including senior VP of Midwest and West Coast operations, VP of the Twin City Builder Operations and general manager of Lyman Lumber in Chanhassen.

“Dale brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to this new role,” said Umosella. “His leadership and expertise will help further the growth of our divisions and allow us to continue to improve the sharing of best practices across the company.”

In his new role, Carlson will oversee strategic planning and analysis so support the growth of all 26 divisions under the US LBM umbrella.

He will report to Jeff Umosella, COO of US LBM and president of Universal Supply Company.

Tim Liester will succeed Carlson as president of Lyman Companies.

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