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Color of the Year

Creating a Buzz in Your Paint Department

For paint manufacturers, announcing a color of the year is big business. A new paint color generates a lot of excitement around their product, and it is a chance to put their distinctive palettes in the spotlight and boost sales.

Color should drive excitement at your business, too. Customers coming in for a paint project will likely head straight for the paint chip display. They may be feeling inspired to put a new look to a familiar space, and the experience they have in your store as they are choosing the colors can cement their loyalty to your business.

In 2020, colors are trending away from the grays and neutrals of previous years toward natural tones that encourage serenity and optimism. On the following pages, find the 2020 colors of the year from eight leading companies. Then, read tips from Hardware Retailing for how color can play an important role in driving more sales to your paint department.


Color Trends

2020 Colors of the Year

Back to Nature Color Number: S340-4
Behr (Home Depot exclusive) Behr’s new colors for 2020 are direct reflections of nature, a way to bring the outside inside. “As we enter the next decade, we strive for vibrancy in life and shape it how we choose. Back to Nature is a restorative and revitalizing green hue that engages the senses and pairs well with other colors both inside and outside your home,” according to the company’s website.

Songbird Color Number: 117C
Pratt & Lambert Embodying the trend toward nature-inspired colors, Songbird is a blueish green hue that is both serene and optimistic. “Crisp, clean and vibrant, Songbird speaks to our desire to bring in natural colors with energy. Minimalistic and optimistic, this youthful shade soars,” the company’s website says.

Naval Color Number: SW 6244
Sherwin-Williams Sherwin-Williams is starting off the new decade with a rich navy blue intended to invoke feelings of confidence and change. “Navy is coming out of its comfort zone with you. 2020 is an empowering year of change that focuses on bringing your best self into the new decade, a clean palette for self-nurturance,” the company’s website says.

Classic Blue Color Number: 19-4052
Pantone Pantone is a trendsetter in color and design. The company chose Classic Blue as a color evoking a sense of stability, nostalgia and peace. “Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Honey I’m Home Color Number: SC193-3
Beauti-Tone (Home Hardware exclusive) Honey I’m Home is a golden tone that is sweet and calming. It’s part of the Simon Chang 2019/20 Trend Color Collection. “This warm, golden hue reflects the resurgence of camel in fashion and home,” says Chang. “This is a color that will create beauty anywhere in your home—walls, furniture, floors and accents.”

First Light Color Number: 2102-70
Benjamin Moore First Light is part of a palette of ten soft, rosy hues. According to Benjamin Moore, the palette combines “optimism with understatement. A fresh palette. A revitalized spirit.A soft, rosy hue blooming with potential. It’s the backdrop for a bright new decade.”

Barking Creek Color Number: V110-3
Valspar Barking Creek is one of the 12 colors Valspar has selected for 2020. The palette includes serene tones that reflect comfort. “Earth’s prescription for the chaotic, busy lives we all live is to bring the tranquility of nature and the outdoor world into the home. That’s exactly what we set out to accomplish when forecasting the 2020 Colors of the Year,” says Sue Kim, Valspar color marketing manager at Sherwin-Williams.

Chinese Porcelain Color Number: PPG1160-6
PPG Chinese Porcelain blends cobalt and moody blue for a sense of calmness. “The need for simplicity and escapism from technology is, in part, the reason that consumers are craving blues like Chinese Porcelain that bring us closer to natural elements such as the sea and sky, creating serenity and peace,” says PPG’s senior color manager Dee Schlotter.


How to Sell Color

Color plays an important role in driving traffic to your paint department. Use the following steps to boost sales and encourage customers to try something new.

  1. Create the space.
    Retailers who have been successful in selling paint have created paint rooms or dedicated areas away from the busy aisles of the store where customers can sit, look at paint swatches and get a vision for what they want in their home. Create an inspiring environment by including architecture and design magazines, chairs and a table.
  2. Focus on value.
    If color is what started the conversation about paint, don’t let price end it. Customers should understand that different grades of quality will have different end results. No matter which grade they buy, they’re going to expect a great finish. Educating them up front on the different types and encouraging them to buy a better product could help alleviate frustrations later.
  3. Hire design pros.
    Customers might get excited about a new color on the paint chip rack, but they may not be sure what to do with it. Hire a designer who can show customers how to match complementary colors and connect their new throw pillows to their walls. A designer can help the customer by suggesting a scheme for an entire room.
  4. Know your product.
    DIYers browsing your paint department may have some knowledge of the project they’re aiming to tackle. It’s even more important for your staff to master their own product knowledge. Take advantage of training from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), wholesaler classes and vendor seminars. Learn more about what’s available at nrha.org/online-training.
  5. Maintain inventory.
    The color chip rack is going to be the centerpiece of your paint department. Make sure the sundries aisle isn’t a letdown. Be fastidious with your inventory management, eliminate holes in the inventory, face and front products often and keep the area clean. Change out endcaps near the paint area frequently, too, so the department always looks fresh.
  6. Fill the basket.
    The quest for a new color is the springboard for a larger project. There is a basket full of items customers will need with the project. Use merchandising to your advantage. Project lists placed strategically throughout the department will remind customers of what else they need. Creative endcaps and power aisle displays can also suggest add-on sales.
  7. Keep up on trends.
    Paint trends are not something you should look at only once a year. Use wholesaler markets to stay up to date on new products, such as specialty paints or applicators. Also read craft magazines, browse popular home design websites and study social media sites such as Pinterest. When you understand what projects are popular among DIYers, you can align your product mix accordingly.
  8. Elaborate with events.
    Introducing your paint vendor’s color of the year is a great opportunity to hold an event. Use the new colors to build excitement, then segue the conversation into a seminar on how to match colors, how to successfully paint a room or how to refurbish an antique. Bringing in your paint vendor to talk about new products will help cement the loyalty customers have with the brand you sell.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton
Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NRHA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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