Seminar: Housewares Industry Needs to be Savvy on Color

Lee Eiseman

Lee Eiseman

CHICAGO-In choosing colors for their products, housewares vendors and retailers must be smart and investigate each use of color within its own context to reach consumers, according to a seminar on color that took place at the International Home + Housewares Show.

Titled “Engaging the Consumer—Facts vs. Fiction in Lifestyle and Color,” the seminar featured Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, and Tom Mirabile, senior vice president of global trend and design for Lifetime Brands and consumer trend forecaster for the International Housewares Association, owner and operator of the Housewares Show.

After discussing the attributes of four generations of consumers—active seniors, baby boomers and generations X and Y—Mirabile said color is important to each generation, although in different ways. Eiseman added that each generation also responds to color differently, and that color “delivers emotion to consumers.”

Tom Mirabile

Tom Mirabile

Mirabile also suggested that color has assumed even greater importance because “we have never dealt with a consumer that is as educated as the consumers of today. People are so exposed, and they are expecting you to be knowledgeable as well.”

Along those lines, Eiseman said retailers have to do their homework on what colors have sold for them, historically. Blue is what she termed an “international favorite,” but retailers need to investigate what shade and intensity of blue they should offer. Black and white are perennial favorites as well, and while red is popular, “it needs to be skewed,” she said.

Other shifts in color and design have made retailers’ knowledge of color trends even more critical, Eiseman said. These include the use of celebrities to sell products, technology that can transform color hues and the use of lighting.

She also noted how orange has evolved into a popular color at higher price points, particularly after Apple introduced laptops with colors including orange. “We now see the color orange at every price level, and that will continue,” Eiseman said. “These are the types of trends in today’s consumer and how color is essential to connect with them.”