Posted by: Diane Capuano
Just like other aspects of modern life, selecting the right colors for a home’s décor has “gone digital.” Those in the business of selling color for the home—and this includes paint and decorating retail outlets, interior designers and decorators, painting contractors, decorative painters and others—should be up to speed on the technological resources that are currently at their disposal.
Ray Gomez, Director of Color Marketing at Benjamin Moore, referred to 2011 as the “year of color in a digital space.” This is certainly a major focus at Benjamin Moore. Explained Gomez: “We’re not only leveraging BenjaminMoore.com, but also Facebook and Twitter and mobile phone apps. We’re thinking more digitally because that’s where consumers are.”
One of Benjamin Moore’s newest digital tools is the Color Gallery, available on BenjaminMoore.com, which showcases 1,008 colors.“With Color Gallery, consumers can search color in many different ways,” Gomez said. “They can search by color family, by color collections, by trends and by favorites. We wanted the Color Gallery to be an easy-to-use color tool that lets people view colors on their own terms.”
Another digital phenomenon is the increasing use of mobile devices, which Benjamin Moore has addressed with a number of versatile apps. These include the Color Capture App, which allows consumers to easily coordinate paint colors with other home furnishing products. It’s available for iPhones, and Android phones. “Using the camera on their phone, a user can snap a photo, tap the screen and instantaneously find a Benjamin Moore color that matches,” Gomez explained.
Benjamin Moore also has developed an iPhone and Blackberry app specifically for painting contractors. Known as the ProConnection, it allows professional painters to access color collections and paint products, manage projects, organize client information and find the closest store that sells Benjamin Moore paints. For interior designers, Benjamin Moore offers an app that allows them to access the company’s paint color forecast on an iPad—complete with images, video and music—for only $25.
“All the tools that we design keep the retail experience in mind,” Gomez said. “Our website and mobile apps are helpful for narrowing down choices and determining color preferences, but at the end of the day, we recommend that consumers go into the store to get a look at the actual color.”
PPG also uses technology for color selection as well. “We feature our full color palette on line now so that customers can quickly get to a starting point,” said Dee Schlotter, National Color Brand Manager, PPG Pittsburgh Paints. “Soon, you will be able to filter these colors so users can quickly scan the color families for their decorating projects. Today, it’s all about efficiencies—making it easy for the customer to find what they need quickly. The color palette filters will make it easier for customers to find their perfect colors.”
PPG also offers the portable ColorEye, which matches colors in the field to an existing PPG Pittsburgh Paints color. “Pro painters, new home builders and designers use this tool with their customers,” said Schlotter, explaining that it saves time while allowing customers to find their colors with ease and confidence.
At California Paints, online color tools include the Online Color Center, one of the most visited areas at www.californiapaints.com. “Customers can search for colors by shade or color name and view our virtual color rack and e-fan deck,” reported Maryellen Mantyla, the company’s director of marketing. “The scheming center component is an extremely useful tool for DIY customers and professionals. It allows visitors to put color schemes together and view them in interior and exterior settings.”
Mantyla explained that the scheming center takes color preferences a bit further by considering the three- or four-color combination chosen and creating additional suggested schemes. “So, if you chose a three- or four-color scheme featuring shades of blue, gray and green, the supplementary suggested schemes generated by the scheming center would give you bonus variations of color combinations to consider. It is an excellent way to review alternative color combinations before making a final choice.”
Manufacturers of color matching technology also are stepping up with new, improved and, in some instances, smaller devices. For instance, X-Rite Inc. has introduced a handheld device called CAPSURE, which paint retailers can loan out for just about any color-matching job.
“Easy to use and intuitive, CAPSURE can identify colors on walls, carpets, furniture, flooring, clothing, magazine illustrations—virtually any inspiration object,” said Jeff Rowekamp, director of sales—retail for the Americas at X-Rite Inc. “CAPSURE can also isolate colors within a multi-colored pattern for developing matching or complementary color palettes. Like a huge fan deck, CAPSURE suggests a specific color to match the sample and can also recommend colors that harmonize with the sample.”
At Datacolor, the newest addition to its color-matching lineup is a system that focuses on accuracy, versatility and affordability. All of these characteristics are found in the recently launched Datacolor SelectKIT™, an economical yet extremely powerful tool for matching and measuring colors using state-of-the-art measurement and search engine technology.
Brian Levey, Vice President, Industrial Business Unit for Datacolor, reported that this is a complete color-matching system for under $2,000, which makes the technology more accessible to smaller paint retailers who can’t afford traditional paint matching systems in the range of $5,000 to $7,000.
“Datacolor SelectKIT is a value-priced solution to color matching and selection offering many of the same features found in more expensive systems including color measurement, fast colorimetric search and formula identification, customer formula storage, retrieval, and adjustment,” Levey said. “SelectKIT can help paint retailers level the playing field with their larger competitors with a minimal investment.”
Mantyla cautioned that there is a downside to color-viewing technology, stressing that there is no universal safeguard against color variation as it translates through individual computer monitors. “We are trying to balance the consumer and industry desire to use electronic color with our dedication to providing our customers with color accuracy,” she said. “We feel color accuracy is best achieved through looking at manufacturer-generated color chips or actual wet paint dried back.
Having said that, Mantyla cited technology as offering many advantages regarding color information. “The Internet is where consumers (and some professionals) go first to educate themselves and to find the products they need. Our efforts on this front have increased brand awareness and color specification rates. The intangible color-merchandising tool called the Internet is powerful and, when used correctly, very effective.”