No Longer Ordinary

By Jenn Hess | August 9, 2005

Children's decorating has become a growing segment as more parents are listening to what their children have to say about paint and decorations in their bedrooms and playrooms. To capitalize on this trend, paint companies are developing specialty paints a

Paint used to be the most popular way to decorate and redecorate. Consumers would paint the walls and ceiling, maybe match colors to the furniture in the room and then add a few matching decorations. But today interior decorating has developed to the point where ordinary and boring are out, and coordination and exciting effects are key. No segment illustrates this trend like the children's decorating market. With today's kids, one minute it's Disney movies, nursery rhymes and cartoon characters, then it's baseball and ballet, and don't forget WWF and musical groups either. A child's interests are always changing, and once they grow out of one phase, they don't want signs of a previous interest on the walls or anywhere in their room. How is a parent to keep up with all these changing ideas? "Many manufacturers of home decor products offer themes to fit kids' lifestyles," said James R. Robellard, marketing director, Valspar Corporation. "General themes such as sports, space, dinosaurs, flowers and animals to well known entities like Disney, Warner Brothers, Dr. Seuss and Teen Beat are available by specific theme, trend or current fad. This gives the opportunity for customizing the environment to the child's own individualism based on gender, interest and age bracket." Just how much potential does this market hold? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2001 there will be more than 33 million households in the U.S. with children living at home. And with new fads, fashions, TV shows and trends occurring at almost lightening speed, a kid's room can be redecorated several times. Some industry experts report a child might have her bedroom redecorated three or four times before she even reaches her teen years. "There is a growing interest in decorating children's rooms," said Kathy Henry, communications manager, Glidden. "Decorating and painting children's rooms as they change and grow can be a fun project to involve the child in, and doesn't need to be expensive. Decorating their bedrooms, play, or study areas makes the child feel an important part of the home and makes them feel they have a special place all their own to go to." Paint manufacturers recognize the potential within the children's decorating market, and are developing everything from specially formulated interior and spray paints to color palettes and idea cards. "The kids market is strong and growing," said Mr. Robellard. "A child's room has become not only a room to sleep in, but a place to play, study and relax in their own personal space. Their environment should be conducive to their personality�it's a whole lifestyle." "Kids are becoming more involved in the decorating of their bedroom and playroom," said Hugo Sandberg, director of marketing for Krylon's aerosol and small can group. "They are definitely being influenced by the decorating craze and want to be able to personalize their living space. Their playroom and bedroom are two areas where kids can have input and parents will listen to their opinions." There is also growing demand for easy ways to coordinate everything from paint, stamps and wallpaper to lamps and bedding. To help parents with their decorating efforts, Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore have developed children's paint and decorating programs by working with recognized brand names that children love and parents trust� Crayola and Walt Disney. In September, Sherwin-Williams, Walt Disney and Plaid Enterprises unveiled the Disney Home collection into retail outlets across the country. It will continue to be rolled out into more markets throughout 2001. "The response to the launch of Disney Home has been phenomenal," said Ron Hudas, Disney Color product manager, Sherwin-Williams Company. "Everyone can associate with Disney. Disney is a highly recognizable brand name and a brand that parents can trust to paint their children's rooms." What is driving this decorating craze? Children are no longer satisfied with what their parents think is a great decorating idea. Between gossip at school and television programs, kids have tons of ideas floating around in their little heads about what color their bedroom walls should be or a theme they want in their room, such as ballerina, flowers, clouds or Mickey Mouse. "I think parents are giving their children more opportunities to participate in the design and decoration of their environment, and I see this as a positive step in the right direction," said Susan Tucker, Crayola spokesperson. "Every opportunity we provide for kids to express their creativity helps them to learn and grow." Market research conducted by The Sherwin-Williams Company reported that 20% of parents said their spending was influenced by their children. "Much to the dismay of parents, there is a trend towards individualization," said Margaret Walch, director, Color Association of the United States. "Children are speaking up at a younger age and asking for their own personal designs. Today an eight year old might speak up about their room. Children are very savy towards new products and receptive to new designs." "Children have more voice in the selection of their room decoration, clothing and other material possessions," said Mr. Robellard of Valspar. "As far as the media goes, advertising spans all levels and ages of kids. Influences in current trends, themes and products have been specifically and successfully geared to children in developing their own lifestyle." Allowing a child to participate in the decorating process of their bedroom will "project to anyone entering their room their personality and interests," said Ms. Henry of Glidden. "As we all know, these interests change often. Parents may choose to change the child's areas with each new school year, or at the major developmental stages." Ms. Henry identified a number of development stages that might influence redecoration. Among these stages are nursery (ages 0-3), baby themes, traditionally pastel colors; toddler/preschool, familiar characters, richer colors; and young school age, beginning sports, music, or other interests and themes. As children enter middle and high school, decorating preferences will continue to change. In the pre-teen segment, interests are more solidified with creative decorating ideas. Teens are interested in developing unique designs and by the time a child is in high school, parents can be sure he doesn't want a childish room, but one that reflects his almost-adult status. "Decorating at each of these stages gives parents the opportunity to gradually incorporate more of the child's individuality into decorating decisions so that by the time they decorate their high school room, they can make choices without much parental input," added Ms. Henry.

A Rainbow of Choices Whether its rubber ducky yellow, Easter egg purple, infinity and beyond blue, campfire orange or porcelain doll pink, children love color, and lots of it. "Color is very important," said Mr. Robellard of Valspar. "In the past, a kid's room was used for sleeping, thus, more neutral and soft colors were used. Today, with a child's rooms used as more of a multi-purpose living environment, colors have become more extensive in selection, brighter and fun." Ms. Henry agreed and noted the importance of room usage in color selection. "The activities in the room should be considered when choosing colors," said Ms. Henry. According to Mr. Robbellard, many things affect color selection such as gender; color matching with sport team colors, wallpaper, bed linens, etc.; kid's fashion; and trends and interests in characters such as Pokemon yellow, Barbie pink, Power Rangers green, red, yellow and white, and even the stark black, white, red and grays of Star Wars. "And of course there's purple�children love the color purple. Not because of Barney, but because it's unusual," he added. "All of these play an important part in the selection process of color. The paint palette you offer has to include a vast array of color choices and the ability to match any color swatch," said Mr. Robellard. "Color sells, it's as simple as that," said Dave Vermilya, product manager, True Value Manufacturing. "Though 60%-70% of the people wind up choosing some shade of off white, it is the amount of colors offered that really attracts the customer. For kids' rooms you probably find brighter more vibrant colors than you would in a living room or dining room. Color trends are very important. If a new cartoon character gets popular or if there is a new toy craze, every kid will want his room that color." Glidden's Ideacards offer suggestions on how parents can coordinate colors to design rooms that their children will love. "Glidden has divided its colors into four mood collections�vibrant, fresh, warm and calm, to help make color coordination easier�easy enough for a child," said Ms. Henry. "Parents may want to suggest colors from the calm collection for the bedroom and study area to give a soft, subtle, muted mood to the room. Colors from the vibrant collection are ideal for play areas providing a fun, stimulating environment. Colors within the same mood collection all coordinate perfectly." "Color is going, on one hand softer and lighter, and brighter and sharper on the other," according to Ms. Walch and the Color Association of the United State's color forecast for children through 2002. Ms. Walch said she has also noticed an increase in the number of colors used within a room. "As far as painting, more colors are also being used," said Ms. Walch. "Items such as file cabinets and tables used to be black, but now options are wide open."

Magic of Crayola Crayons Having a wide selection of kid friendly colors is key, but some paint manufacturers have gone a step further. More firms are forming licensing and marketing agreements with brands and companies that are long-time experts in the kids market. Just about every child has used Crayola crayons, markers and paints in art class or at home. Recognizing the power of a well-known brand name, Crayola teamed up with Benjamin Moore to develop the Crayola line of interior latex paints in 1996. "Our goal was to extend the opportunity for consumers to interact with the Crayola brand, whether they are painting a picture with Crayola craft paint or a room with Crayola interior paint," said Ms. Tucker. "Much of the line's success can be attributed to the technique guides and support material that Benjamin Moore offers consumers looking to decorate with Benjamin Moore products. This kind of creative advice inspires consumers and is often the impetus behind their purchase." Crayola feels that its reputation as color experts will help attract customers to their line of interior paints. "Consumers trust the Crayola brand," said Ms. Tucker. "It's this trust consumers have in the brand to deliver color and creativity that attracts consumers to the Crayola interior latex paint. Many of the Benjamin Moore paint colors also correspond to their Crayola crayon counterpart, including granny smith apple and purple mountain's majesty." Crayola also offers additional matching items to help parents decorate a child's room. "We have licensing partners that manufacture wallpapers and lamps that can be coordinated with Crayola paint in designing a child's bedroom or playroom," said Ms. Tucker. "We do expect to expand the home decor offerings by adding bedding to the line in the near future, and we're also looking at other possibilities down the road."

Power of Disney People young and old love Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and all the other members of the Walt Disney Corporation family. Now a child's relationship with their favorite Disney characters can be brought to a new level with the Disney Home collection. Consisting of Sherwin-Williams' paint, Plaid Enterprises' stencils, borders and stamps and just recently WestPoint Stevens' sheets, towels and other bedding accessories, the Disney Home Collection is designed to bring a child's bedroom or playroom to life. "We felt there was a need for a program that combined the trust and recognition that parents have for a brand name like Disney," said Mr. Hudas of Sherwin-Williams. Eight characters are featured in the initial launch of the line�Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Little Dipper, the newest addition to Disney's "101 Dalmatian" family. "The concept was to develop a complete system of decorating that is part of Disney Home," said Sue Rubano, senior manager, home furnishings, Walt Disney Corporation. "The collection offers ideas on how to decorate a room. With the new collection, parents will be able to create fantastic new environments featuring favorite Disney characters such as Pooh, Mickey and Buzz Lightyear." During the development process, Mr. Hudas said Sherwin-Williams wanted to create a way that would bring families together and let children be involved in the decorating process. "We wanted to develop a program that the entire family could be involved in and do together," said Mr. Hudas. "The Disney Home collection brings kids' opinions into the picture." "When we created this collection, we envisioned a project that the family can work on together to create a fun, magical environment," said Ken Chaplin, Walt Disney's director, home furnishings. "There is a lot of equity and emotional attachment with Disney characters, and now families can recreate that." Both Sherwin-Williams and Disney feel brand recognition will attract customers to the collection's in-store displays. "Children will recognize the characters from cartoons and Disney movies, and see the colors that coordinate with their favorite characters," said Mr. Hudas.

Kid-Friendly Products Getting the Job Done A child might love his newly decorated room, but what good would it be if it cannot withstand the tough conditions he will put it through? Paint needs to be extremely durable and easy-to-clean, or high-traffic areas will need to be painted again and again. (Good for paint sales, bad for parents and consumers.) "The wear and tear criteria include stain resistance to normal household stains that are produced by children such as finger prints and dirt smudges," said Mr. Robellard of Valspar. He also noted the importance of easy clean-up, washability and durability to frequent cleaning. True Value said it also took performance requirements into account when developing its Kid's Play Colors line. "With kid's rooms we know there are a lot of finger prints so having a very scrubbable satin finish that can easily be washed is a must," said Mr. Vermilya of True Value. "Also latex-based products have low odor, which also is good for kid's rooms." Another area that concerns parents is safety. "The number one question that we receive from parents is about whether the paint is safe if kids come in contact with it," said Mr. Sandberg of Krylon. "Kids Tuff is a low odor paint that is safe to be used on furniture, cribs and toys. And because it is a latex paint, it is safe to be used indoors without any need to worry about fumes or the paint flaking off." Among coatings manufacturers offering specially designed interior paint are True Value, Valspar and Dutch Boy. "We have Kid's Play Colors which is an interior acrylic latex satin available in quarts and gallons, pure white and bases to make 2112 colors," said Mr. Vermilya. "There is also a Kids Play Colors color card that has specific color schemes. We introduced the paint about two years ago, while we have had the color card for about five years." Valspar introduced three interior paint products to the market about five years ago�Kinder Guard, Kid Guard and Kids Zone. Dutch Boy's Kid's Room paint, available in a unique low odor formula is being promoted as paint "formulated for walls that take a beating." Performance characteristics of the product include durability, scrubbability and resilience. Dutch Boy's Kid's Room paint also has a new color card that coordinates colors for four age groups: nurseries, toddlers, grade schoolers and teenagers. Roller- or brush-applied coatings are not the only type of paint developed specially for the children's decorating market. Krylon has unveiled a new specially formulated line of aerosol spray paint. "Kid's Tuff is the only aerosol spray paint developed for kid's rooms," said Mr. Sandberg. "There is no other product like this on the market. We conducted a lot of consumer research, and found that consumers would both buy this product." Available in 12 primary colors, Kid's Tuff also features "a smaller can size designed with the female hand in mind to make it easier to use and give better control," explained Mr. Sandberg. "We've noticed an increase in the number of female consumers that use aerosol spray paints. Ten years ago, the breakdown was 65% male versus 35% female." Today the market is more evenly divided�55% male versus 45% female, according to Mr. Sandberg. Even though some paint manufacturers haven't developed a specially formulated kid's paint, they are still taking aim at this market. Glidden does not target one product specifically for children's decorating. Instead, the paint company has focused on providing ideas for decorating children's spaces and suggesting appropriate paints for each project. "These ideas can be found in our Glidden Color magazine, which is published twice each year and sold in retail outlets such as Home Depot across the country," said Ms. Henry. "We also offer Ideacards showing painted and decorated children's rooms, and a Kid's Colors color card featuring color combinations kids love. Both of these can be found on the Glidden color centers in paint departments."

Staying on Top As more paint manufacturers recognize the realm of possibilities within the children's decorating market, more products should enter the market over the next year or two. But what should be considered when developing a product for this segment? "Targeting parents with products that will make their lives easier in regard to their kids will be successful," said Mr. Robellard of Valspar. Other things that need to be considered are "quality paint and related features, durability, easy application, flexibility in the palette offering a wide range of colors to choose from or match, easy to understand point-of purchase packaging and merchandising and color cards that relate not only to the parents but to the level that kids can also understand�kind of like a coloring book, and ease of purchase with convenient availability," he added. Ease of use also ranks high on a customer's priority list, according to Mr. Vermilya of True Value "Keep the cost competitive for the whole project and create something that is easy enough to do by the parents without having to hire a decorator or professional painter."

Glidden Heads Back to School with Colorful Classrooms Campaign

Bright colors are usually associated with children. But it turns out that there is one place where bright colors might not be the best fit-a kindergarten classroom. To help schools pick the right colors for their kindergarten classrooms and set up an environment conducive to learning, Glidden established the Colorful Classrooms Campaign in 2000. The Cleveland, OH-based paint manufacturer enlisted the help of Susan Arndt, president of ABCDesign, Inc. and a Montessori-certified teacher, to work with kindergarten teachers and find out their decorating preferences. "The right colors are important because they can help fulfill a child's social, emotional and physical needs and can help create an environment that is conducive to learning," said Ms. Arndt. Among the factors to consider when decorating a space like a kindergarten classroom are room size, lighting, how the room is used and the teacher's preferences. When it come to classrooms, there is such a thing as too much color. "Contrary to popular belief, bold bright colors are not usually the best to use in the school environment," said Kathy Henry, communications manager, Glidden. "It is much better to use interesting, calming colors since there are usually lots of colorful learning materials on the walls and the children themselves bring colorful clothing into their rooms." In addition to offering decorating tips, Glidden donated paint in the colors the school requested. According to Ms. Henry, before the Colorful Classrooms Campaign one school relied on donated paint and didn't have a say in color choices. Ms. Henry said the Colorful Classrooms Campaign presented the type of opportunity Glidden was looking for in a community involvement project. "The idea of painting classrooms was a perfect fit for us," explained Ms. Henry. "We were able to demonstrate our knowledge of color and its impact in creating environments in the home, and translate it to the school environment. When we combined this knowledge with kids and schools, we all got excited. What a fun-and certainly much needed-project." Glidden hopes to expand the Colorful Classrooms Campaign in 2001, and is accepting nominations for kindergarten classrooms at www.gliddenpaint.com.

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