Gifts Today magazine

Engage consumer with smart use of colour

Leading colour forecaster Lee Eiseman discusses changing realities of today’s consumer in presentation in Chicago

While everyone wants to know the perfect color for their product, not one solution exists. In the world of color, housewares manufacturers and retailers need to be smart, savvy, educated and investigate each usage of color within its own context in order to reach the consumer.

“There are generalisations and trends with color, but the magic bullet doesn’t exist. You need to know the audience, the consumer, lighting, competition and more,” Lee Eiseman told an audience at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show.
In a presentation, ‘Engaging the Consumer - Facts vs. Fiction in Lifestyle and Color’ Eiseman, leading colour and design forecaster and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, along with Tom Mirabile, senior vice president of Global Trend & Design for Lifetime Brands and consumer trend forecaster for IHA, discussed the changing realities of today’s consumer and the essential role of color in both serving and connecting with them. 

After discussing attributes of the four generations of consumers – Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Active Seniors – Mirabile noted that color is important to each generation, although in different ways. For example, he said, baby boomers are very color savvy, as color is a part of their nature. Gen X seeks color as they are exposed to it with their children. And Gen Y are using color in in their homes to express their independence. 
The generations respond to colors differently, noted Eiseman. “From my perspective, color is about emotion, and each person has their own attachment,” she said. “Color delivers emotions to consumers. Baby boomers are appreciating it even more with the proliferation of eye surgeries – many can see far more clearly than before. The Y generation as new parents is inclined to be savvy with trends and you as a retailer or manufacturer needs to stay on top of those trends and be more educated than they are.”

Mirabile agreed, saying “We have never dealt with a consumer that is as educated as the consumers of today. People are so exposed and they are expecting you to be knowledgeable as well.” While color is limitless, it is expected to be prominent in retail. 

“As retailers you have to do your homework,” Eiseman said. “What colors have historically sold well for you? Blue, for example, is an international favorite and many customers are dedicated to it. I rarely work on a product line where I don’t recommend some shade of blue. But even though it’s been a big seller, you need to ask yourself what shade of blue and what intensity do you use to get newness out there? 

“Of course white is always a safe bet, but what can we do with it to make it different? Can you work with the form or shape or contrast? Black and white is a given that never goes away but still we need to create something new those colors,” she added. “Engage consumers’ other senses and ask what makes them want to reach out and touch it? And while red is popular it needs to be skewed. So you need to arm yourself with the necessary information to make informed choices.”

Eiseman also noted that there have been notable shifts in color and design that could make a retailer’s knowledge of color trends even more critical; for example, the usage of celebrities to sell products, technology that can transform color hues and use of lighting. She cited the color orange as the example of how the consumer mindset has changed. 

Inexpensive fast food outlets such as Arby’s and A&W had orange logos so it was a hard sell to sell anything associated with orange at a high price point, she said. That changed when Apple, Inc. introduced laptops with colors, including orange. “That opened up ideas to use orange in a far reaching way. We now see the color orange at every price level, and that will continue. Orange is a color that has amazed me and has gained so much acceptance, so quickly. These are the types of trends in today’s consumer and how color is essential to connect with them,” she said.

The presentation was held at the International Home + Housewares Show, which was held March 15-18, at McCormick Place in Chicago.


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