The Architectural Coatings Market

By Kerry Pianoforte, Editor | January 15, 2013

Recovery in the housing market and an improving economy offer bright spots for architectural coatings manufacturers.

Architectural coatings manufacturers Coatings World spoke with reported that overall, 2012 showed improvements in sales and demand. Several factors have contributed to this increased demand, including an improvement in the U.S. housing market and overall economy. 

“The interior architectural coatings market has shown a positive upward trend through 2012 as the housing market and economy are starting to recover,” said Sean Morris, brand manager at Valspar. “This recovery is giving consumers more confidence in investing in new home purchases and home improvement projects such as painting. We foresee this upward trend continuing through 2013.”

“The third quarter was a solid quarter for Sherwin-Williams in terms of both sales and profit improvement,” Chris Connor, chairman and CEO, The Sherwin-Williams Company said at a recent Q3 earnings call. “Consolidated sales increased almost five percent, despite soft market conditions and currency headwinds across most of our non-domestic markets. We also had to overcome the diminishing effect from last year’s price increases and a strong revenue growth comparison from the third quarter of last year. Despite that, many of the financial metrics, notably the $2.6 billion in sales for the quarter, $235 million in net income and $2.24 earnings per share, are high-water marks for any quarter in our company’s history. Year to date, our flow-through on operating income is over 31 percent.”
“To date, paint and coatings demand in our domestic businesses has been resilient,” continued Connor. “We remain optimistic that U.S. architectural paint market volumes, primarily in the residential segments, will remain positive in the fourth quarter of 2012 and well beyond. And domestic demand for most industrial coatings will continue to expand. Our outlook for fourth quarter 2012 is for consolidated net sales to increase in the mid-single digits compared to last year’s fourth quarter.”

Kelly-Moore Paints reported sales improvements across all lines on interior products in 2012. “The professional painting market has improved over the past 12  months for all products in general, and some projects began to break loose driven by favorable construction interest rates,” said Mark Zielinski, vice president of sales, Kelly-Moore. “We remain hopeful that the market trends continue into the new year. As new residential housing continues to rebound, even with lower volumes than in 2006, the interior product sales will continue to improve.”

Consumers as a whole are becoming more educated in their purchasing decisions and are spending more time researching/gathering information regarding their interior paint choice. As such, customers have come to expect a high level of service and performance from their architectural coatings. “Not only are they looking for a premium quality paint, they are also looking for guidance during their painting journey and assurance that they will be confident in their purchase decision,” said Morris. “Valspar offers a number of tools to help, such as an online virtual painter, paint calculator and a full online color palette calculator; premium products such as Valspar Signature Paint and primer in One with Hi-Def Advanced Color and also assures your purchase selection with the Valspar Love Your Color Guarantee where is a customer does not love their first color choice, Valspar will replace it with up to two gallons of another color.”

“In flats, the consumer wants a paint that is washable and stain resistant,” said Dave Heiligenthal, Dunn-Edwards product manager. “In the non-flats, consumers want paints that are scrubbable and block resistant. The painting contractor is more concerned with the product’s spread rate, hide, touch-up performance and ease-of-use in flats. In the non-flats, contractors are looking for paints that flow and level, adhere to difficult to paint surfaces and are uniform in sheen.”

According to Karl Schmitt, vice president marketing research and design at Sherwin-Williams, for interior coatings, customers are looking for quality of the overall finished appearance, easy cleanup and maintenance, great coverage, soil and stain resistance, ease of application, color accuracy and appeal, good hiding, low odor and the ability to address environmental and air quality concerns. “The latest technologies being developed are those which do the best job of offering great performance with low or zero VOC compounds,” he added. “Utilization of alternate raw materials is one way Sherwin-Williams achieves strong product performance at low or zero VOC levels.”

Kelly-Moore is beginning to produce all interior lines from premium goods to production labels in zero-VOC formulas. “The indoor air quality and near-odorless application seems to lead the demand for new construction projects and repaint work,” said Zielinski.  “New formulas can achieve best in class performance through formulation, which was not possible in the past.”

Another important aspect of architectural coatings is staying ahead of the curve when it comes to color trends. Coatings manufacturers devote a considerable amount of time and money in predicting what will be the next hot color.
“Colors for 2012 will become fresher and cleaner, almost pastel-like,” said Mary Lawlor, manager of color marketing, Kelly-Moore. “Mid-toned blues and blue greens with a mid-century modern influence will dominate the palette. Soft yellows and rosy pinks, along with clear reds and navy. Neutrals will continue to transition toward cooler grays.”

In 2013, Valspar Paint will reveal three color trend palettes - Simple Delights, Gathered Stories and Electric Noir - with colors ranging from light-hearted pinks to dusky blues and glowing ambers. “For the year ahead, we are working toward capturing a happy and meaningful life at home,” said Sue Kim of Valspar. “Despite an unpredictable future, we are taking control of our lives at home by rearranging and making changes. Embrace this movement by adding a sense of unexpected delight to every corner of your home through a display of colors and design.”

According to Dunn-Edwards, color will be expanding in four directions in the upcoming year for architectural coatings. “Consumers can expect bold strokes of color and happier color going from the darker shades we’ve been seeing to mid-tone ranges for 2013,” said Sara McLean, Dunn-Edwards’ color marketing manager. “For neutrals, we will be seeing more tinted whites with spots of color to highlight these tints from the Impressionist era. “We’ll also see color reminiscent of the Industrial Age and postmodern aesthetic with strong pigmentation – machine coloring, lacquered brights and powdered pastels. Thirdly, we see color pushing the limits of artistic boundaries as we continue to explore the global reach of color and design. “We’ll see these bold hues mixing together in fresh takes on color combinations and we also see a hint of Old-World coloring with the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014 and the FIFA Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2014. And lastly, we’ll also see color reminding us of the Southwestern and mid-century modern roots and resort-style coloring of the 30s through the 60s; pastels, powdered, retro and all around fun.”

Sherwin-Williams’ 2013 color of the year, Aloe (SW 6464), is described as Midcentury meets 21st century. “With a hint of mint and lots of moxie, this is no ordinary pastel,” said Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing, Sherwin-Williams.  “Aloe is funky and glamorous, demure and free-spirited. While Aloe’s vibe can verge on retro, when paired with caviar blacks, crisp whites or soft grays, suddenly Aloe has a new soul and attitude. Following sneak-peaks of Aloe in fashion and European design shows, its full potential is now ready to be realized. Aloe is featured in Sherwin-Williams colormix 2013, four palettes exploring the dichotomies of simple versus complex and light versus dark to find unexpected, compelling harmonies.”

The Latest Product Offerings
Sherwin-Williams has recently launched a number of new products. “Emerald Interior Paint delivers exceptional hide, durability and washability with a smooth, beautiful appearance,” said Schmitt. “It has reduced odor compared to conventional coatings and anti-microbial properties that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the paint surface. Emerald Interior Paint is GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality Certified and GreenGuard Certified for Children and Schools.”

Sherwin-Williams has launched a number of environmentally responsible products. Colorcast EcoToner colorants, which will not add to the VOC content of any coating when tinted and is the only colorant system that is GreenGuard Certified for Indoor Air Quality and GreenGuard Certified for Children and Schools. ColorCast EcoToner colorants maintain the paint’s full body after tinting, delivering thick, rich coats for maximum performance. ProMar 200 Zero VOC delivers on durability with easy application, excellent hiding and touch-up, ProMar 200 Zero VOC is a complete line with a primer, four sheens and all colors including deep, vivid accents. ProMar 400 Zero VOC is an interior latex paint that meets the environmental VOC requirements and delivers performance and value, including good hide and reliable touch-up. ProClassic Water-based Acrylic Alkyd offers a durable and smooth finish. Water Blocking Primer/Finish is designed to seal surfaces from moisture penetration amd has anti-microbial properties that inhibit the growth of mildew on interior walls. Multi-Purpose Zero VOC Latex Primer’s  strong adhesion properties and new formulation make it the ideal partner for topcoats in both interior and exterior applications, according to the company.

In 2012, Dunn-Edwards launched several new or new and improved products. “Starting with our interior ultra premium paints, Suprema 10 (Flat) and Suprema 20 (Velvet) were improved to provide even better touch-up performance, hide, burnish resistance and washability,” said Heiligenthal. “These two paints were already great, but have been made even better.  Suprema products are ideally suited for use on high-end residential projects.  Our exterior ultra premium, Evershield also has been improved in the flat, velvet and eggshell sheens. Evershield,  already a paint that provided maximum protection against UV and exterior exposure, now has better water repellency than competitive ultra premium brands.  By using the latest resin technology, we were also able to improve resistance to damaging UV exposure, resulting in better color and sheen retention, as well as improved wood grain-crack resistance.  Evershield products are designed for use on high end residential projects, or any project where maximum performance and protection is required.”

Dunn-Edwards introduced a new interior/exterior, ultra-low VOC multi-surface primer, Ultra-Grip Select, designed for use on multiple surfaces, including wood, galvanized metal, masonry and drywall.  Ultra-Grip Select exhibits outstanding adhesion and enamel hold-out and very good stain blocking, according to the company. Ultra-Grip Select is ideally suited for use on residential and commercial projects.  Additionally, Dunn-Edwards added an Eggshell sheen to its Contractor’s Edge Maintenance line of paints, complimenting the flat and semi-gloss.  These paints are ideally suited for apartment repaint projects, where economy and performance are a necessity.

Dunn-Edwards also launched Acri-Hues, a professional line of exterior, ultra-low VOC paints available in a 100% acrylic flat, acrylic eggshell and semi-gloss.  “This new line of paints exhibits excellent dirt pick-up resistance, hide and block resistance combined with exceptional application performance,” added Heiligenthal. “These new products are ideally suited for use on residential and commercial projects, such as single-family and multi-tenant housing, schools, hotels and hospitals.”

Dunn-Edwards launched a new line of high performance paints called Ultrashield.  This new line of paints is available in a multi-surface primer, low sheen and gloss finish, as well as a direct-to-metal (DTM) semi-gloss and gray metal primer.  Ultrashield is an interior/exterior zero VOC, low odor line of paints that is ideal for use in residential or commercial projects, as well as light to moderate industrial applications.  Because it is low odor, it can be used in occupied spaces such as offices, schools and hospitals. Dunn-Edwards launched Acri-Wall Ready-To-Use Interior Flat, a paint that exhibits excellent touch-up and very good hide.  It applies easily, exhibits sheen uniformity and can be applied to new drywall.  This new interior flat is designed for use on residential and commercial projects.

Kelly-Moore introduced a line of heat reflective paints, Enviro Coat Reflective, for exterior applications in 2012, addressing energy savings possibilities through coatings. These colors in Kelly-Moore’s Enviro Coat Reflective paint, help reflect some of the infrared heat from the sun’s rays away from the exterior vertical walls, even when applying desirable mid-tone colors. These are functionally-green paints, by limiting the heat transferred to the inner living space, resulting in possibly fewer air-conditioning cycles necessary to maintain indoor temperature.”

Kelly-Moore just introduced  a line of commercial interior and exterior products to address smooth drywall applications, with the touch-up characteristics that contractors need. The production line of zero VOC paints is scheduled to be introduced to the housing market in Spring of 2013.

Lifestory Research Releases “2012 Residential New Home Shopper Brand Study”

The brand of paint used in a new home can influence shoppers’ perception of quality and their decision to buy, according to a national poll of nearly 10,000 households by Lifestory Research.
The Lifestory Research “2012 Residential New Home Shopper Brand Study” evaluates consumer attitudes from 9,565 households across several different product classifications, including paint, to determine how brands influence home-shopping behavior.  Behr brand paint ranks highest in brand awareness, perceptions of quality, importance of product class brand and overall impression of the brand manufacturer, according to survey results.

Furthermore, 58 percent of home shoppers indicate the brand of paint impacts how they evaluate the purchase of the home. “Many sellers do not consider the importance that paint brands play in a home buyer’s decision criteria,” said Lifestory Research president and CEO Eric Snider. “We find that sharing the brand name of the paint used in the home could play an incremental role in the ultimate decision a consumer makes in regards to a home purchase.  While we do not believe any customer makes a purchase decision solely on the paint brand, the results suggest that the inclusion of the paint brand in the sales process of a home could add value to the overall assessment of a home’s quality.”

Lifestory Research’s series of national investigations focuses on how brands influence the purchase behavior of home owners. “We have seen a fundamental shift in consumer psychology that has occurred in response to the massive social revolution that has taken place over the last several years,” Snider said.  “Consumers are no longer referencing customer advocacy organizations for product information; instead, people are turning to their peers, friends and digital social networks to garner opinions.  As a result, we have seen brands rise in importance in the consumer purchase process.”

 New-home shoppers’ perceptions of paint brands averages 113 on a 400 point scale.  Shoppers evaluated 18 paint brands along four dimensions: brand awareness, perceptions of quality, importance of brand and impression of brand.
Behr ranks highest on the brand index with a score of 232 and performs particularly well in all four dimensions of brand equity, survey results indicate. Following Behr in the rankings are Sherwin Williams (211), Glidden (176), Benjamin Moore (157), Dutch Boy (141), Ralph Lauren (117), Dunn-Edwards (106), Kelly-Moore (92), Pittsburg (87), Frazee (82), Pratt and Lambert (72), Kwal (71), Parker (64), Duron (58), Monarch (57), Color Wheel (52) and DeVoe & Reynolds (41).

 Lifestory Research found that 50 percent of the quality rating of a paint brand could be explained by the amount of people who could recall the brand unaided, which was directly tied to the consumer’s perception of quality. For more information on this study go to www.lifestoryresearch.com.

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