Paint and Décor: Trendwatch – what paint customers want

Kevin Coghlan of MRCB, the leading paint and wallpaper business, spoke to The Hardware Journal about the latest trends.

The Hardware Journal: What are the short-term future developments and trends you see as a retailer in the paint and home décor sector over the next 12/18 months?

Kevin Coghlan: Deeper/dark colours for walls. Not just feature walls, but complete rooms. Possibly only one or two rooms in a home. Other trends to look out for include:
• cool calm whites and not whites with a cream/yellow undertone;
• painting or introducing a ‘pop’ of colour, such as lime, aquamarine, orange or fuchsia in soft furnishings or painted furniture;
• retailers need to be aware of the hidden costs of tinting deep colours as five litres can take as much as €18 worth of colourant and this needs to be factored in when setting retail prices; and,
• painting over the ‘oranged’ pine that we all find far too dark and oppressive, including on kitchen units.

What are the current customer demands in a specialist paint store and how do you see them changing over this 12/18-month period?

There are many varying demands today, and they continue to change all the time. Today’s customers are quite knowledgeable, and do lots of research online before visiting a paint store. I see this becoming more prevalent in the coming 12-18 months. The discerning customer expects a high level of expertise from their local store, backed by up-to-date product knowledge. They also expect you to be up-to-date with the latest colour trends and new products. In many cases, customers know more about the products than salespeople, because of their thorough research online. They are also aware of environmental issues such as VOC emissions, paint recycling etc.

What will your new Benjamin Moore paint brand bring to your store offering that is not there now?

Mainly, it brings the latest technologically advanced paints to the Irish market. The US market has been selling waterborne paints for many years now, and has the advantage of years of tweaking and formulating its products to deliver the very best in paint application and finishes. I believe the more people who use premium-quality paints, the more it elevates the paint industry while also generating a greater understanding that not all paints are the same.
The Benjamin Moore brand’s use of its Gennex proprietary colourant system means lower VOC emissions, better colour retention, and maximum coverage, cutting down on labour and labour costs. It also offers over 3,500 colours, in many different finishes, qualities, and at different price points. It also offers the complete colour range in asthma and allergy friendly certified paint with no compromise on quality, which is quite unique.

What would you say is the Benjamin Moore unique selling point for the trade and retail customer?

For the trade, the main selling point is the application process. The products are formulated with excellent coverage, great touch-up properties and quick recoat time. This all helps reduce a decorator’s time on the project, and subsequent costs. For the retail customer, there are many USPs. If the customer is applying the paint themselves, they will find them a pleasure to use, with no unpleasant fumes or smells, and formulated in a way that can help an amateur achieve great results, without having any great experience in painting. Their colour range and choice is phenomenal.

Has online sales activity impacted on either your trade or retail business to date, and will it into the future?

I’ve no doubt it has, but not noticeably so far, with the exception of wallpaper sales. I think it will impact more on paint sales in the future with the younger generation using online purchasing more and more frequently, but thankfully paint is not an easy commodity to transport, nor can it be exchanged once mixed. Therefore, online retailers are not able to offer the same returns policies as, say, online clothing retailers. Also, colour reproduction on your screen can vary considerably, therefore getting it wrong could be costly.

Catch up on the other posts in our Paint and Décor supplement here.