Pittsburgh Paints Rolling Out Eco-Conscious Hues

Pittsburgh Paints is rolling out a new line of eco-conscious paint hues. The EcoEcho palette is part of its 10-year-old "The Voice of Color" program.

That program, relaunched in 2005 after an eight-year hiatus, was created as a platform for the company to talk about paint as a way to connect emotion to color--paint as a form of personal expression wherein one can find the right hue to match one's emotional palette.

The company may have been ahead of the curve when it launched the program in the late 1990s, but now paint as high fashion for one's walls that you feel as well as look at has gotten big, with the likes of Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren serving up branded paints.

Pittsburgh Paints is hoping to jump ahead again with an appeal to the booming green movement and "a cultural shift toward balance and authenticity," per the company, "as well as our quest for more organic and eco-friendly colors in the home."

The paints are being offered in several SKUs: Fair Trade, EchoTechno, EcoLoco, and Vintage.



Dee Schlotter, marketing communications manager for Pittsburgh Paints, says the company will support the EcoEcho color trends--which are part of Pittsburgh Paints' existing lines--through trade advertising, PR, the Voice of Color Web site, and in-store displays, as well as with two-ounce samples. The samples will be available in January.

"The new trends really add excitement for consumers and help them to stay current. We expect the trends to garner around a 5% increase in sales," says Schlotter, adding that the company is competing against the other top-volume players in the U.S. paints market. "Since Pittsburgh Paints is available through independent dealers as well as company stores, we have two main competitors--Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams."

She also says that "The Voice of Color" campaign is due for a refresh. "On average, consumer color trends last from three to five years. The Voice of Color is currently in its third year, so we are planning a complete refresh of our color palettes for next year ... stay tuned."

The company has also rolled out a series of Pittsburgh Paints Pure Performance paints with minimal odor that are mildew resistant and have no volatile organic compounds.

PPG's innovations might come straight from Chicago-based consultancy Mintel's own description of the segment in its April report on paint and wall coverings. The firm reported that as the home-décor market is more and more driven by trends and media, "manufacturers must constantly innovate to provide consumers with trendy colors, designs and looks they have seen on home decorating shows and in magazines."

The firm suggests that the target buyer for more experimental colors is young, with 38% of 18- to-24-year-olds polled by the firm saying they painted their interior walls within the past two years, and were much more likely to use strong colors such as green, blue, red and black.

The firm also said that environmental regulations are impinging on paint manufacturers, compelling them to create low-VOC formulations. Regulations aside, the green movement will become a larger and larger force in the market for eco-friendly paints, predicts Mintel. And, "celebrities and designer brands are likely to gain a growing presence in the paint and wall-covering sector," says the firm.

Although sales of paint and wall coverings have slowed somewhat over the past two years following several years of record housing starts, Mintel sees a bright future. The firm predicts the segment will track population growth of 1% through 2012. And with the number of households rising faster than the population because of one- and two-person households, combined with an increase of second and vacation homes, demand for paint and wall coverings will stay strong.

The market, which Mintel says reached $10 billion in 2006, is dominated by Sherwin-Williams, PPG, Valspar, Masco and Benjamin Moore, with Sherwin-Williams the market leader.

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