With Digital And Music, Benjamin Moore Looks For New Ways To Sell Color

Everything isn't exactly coming up roses at Benjamin Moore. It's more like Raspberry Blush, the paint company's new color of the year. Even as consumers back away from the intense nest-feathering DIY frenzy that marked the early pandemic years, the premium paint giant is finding new ways to engage consumers, both in stores and online. Meredith Townsley Kinsman, vice president of brand and digital marketing at Benjamin Moore & Co., tells Retail Insider what's fresh in paint.

Retail Insider: First, why have a color of the year? And why Raspberry Blush?

Meredith Townsley Kinsman: We've been around 140 years, and know people want to refresh their space. And designers want to refresh their palettes. Raspberry Blush is a color that brings a ton of charisma. We like to say it has joie de vivre. And this year, we are trying to get away from all the grays and move into something bolder.

Retail Insider: You introduced it differently this year, with music. Why?

Kinsman: Yes, we had Chromeo, an electro-funk band out of Montreal, create a new song to announce it. And we used a digital music video. It's on Spotify, and we've also got playlists for some new colors. The idea we're stressing is that color plays a dynamic part in self-expression, much like music. And that fits with our efforts to reach a younger millennial audience -- they view color differently.

Retail Insider: What's so different about millennial customers?

Kinsman: They're much more willing to personalize their space. Previous generations wanted to take inspiration from something like a furniture company. You were doing well if the space looked like it came out of the catalog. This newer homeowner is much more willing to personalize their space. They want it to be unique and express their personality fully. They're not afraid to make bold moves, to play with different colors.

Retail Insider: How else are you changing your marketing approach?

Kinsman: We've been in transformation mode for the last few years, starting with our website. We have a new digital color experience that we launched this year with new tools. There's a lighting visualizer and a tool for color pairings. We're trying to do more crossover work, like the Chromeo partnership.

Retail Insider: There's been a decided slowdown in home improvement since the beginning of the pandemic. Are there any pandemic-related trends that seem more permanent to you?

Kinsman: Yes. The open-concept space is still great, but people need to compartmentalize their homes more, especially with remote work. And they need a place for kids to play or do homework separately. People think of their spaces as more multiuse.

Retail Insider: How are you hoping people experience you in stores? What is your ideal retail experience?

Kinsman: We want the brand experience to start with inspiration. We want people to feel and see us everywhere: at retail, on Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok. We just want to be there when the inspiration strikes to transform your space.

After that, it's about whatever is most convenient. If you like to shop online, we have an incredible experience. If you're somebody who needs to talk to an expert, our retailers are perfect. We're sold in about 8,500 locations and only by locally owned independent retailers. They make great recommendations.

We've got a robust content arm, with people working on social all day long. We have incredible master brand advertising out there. We want that experience to be consistent, but it doesn't have to be cookie-cutter. That's what we love about our independent channel. Every retailer is setting up its operation in a way that works best in its community.

Retail Insider: Are the new tools meant to be used more at home or in stores themselves?

Kinsman: Both. You can look up any color and explore different variations. For example, if you're in the store and want a peel-and-stick sample, you can buy that on our app. Our retailers all have wet samples and color chips. People use color-pairing tools in stores. And the AR tools are great -- you can visualize how a color will look in your space. The lighting tool is also helpful. A color can look very different in morning light than under artificial light at night.

Retail Insider: Are color pairings and lighting the biggest pain points?

Kinsman: No, the biggest sticking point is color confidence. We're building a new tool, not launched yet, where you can chat online to get a recommendation from our color team to give you the confidence to move forward.

Retail Insider: What metrics matter most for these digital tools? How can you tell you're succeeding?

Kinsman: Sales is first and foremost. We want to drive people to retail. We look at the number of downloads, page views, organic traffic, and conversion. But unlike many apps, we don't focus on time spent.

We don't want them to spend much time. We're not a media channel. We want you to get your answer as quickly as possible. We look at soft metrics, like "How satisfied were you with the experience?"

Retail Insider: How often do people repaint?

Kinsman: It varies. Some paint -- and change their home décor -- every two or three years. On average, though, it's every five years or so. And if people are looking to sell their homes, they make very different choices. But they also paint because of life changes -- to prepare for a baby, before holidays and weddings.

Retail Insider: Any new marketing initiatives coming up?

Kinsman: Yes. Starting in the first quarter of next year, we're introducing something very big that's supporting our local retailers and making sure that everyone understands that Benjamin Moore is only sold in locally owned stores.

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