Page 4: ‘Internal’ influences
Not only does Akzo Nobel have to deal with factors beyond its control in terms of external influences, but also the internal market is always changing. One of the main determinants of demand is ‘taste’. The taste for different colours is subject to trends, and therefore predicting what is going to be the next fashionable colour range is crucially important to the manufacturer.
Timing is critical; bringing out a new colour range too early can be as costly as being too late. Different ranges will have different product life cycles; pure brilliant white emulsions and gloss paints will have a very long, possibly infinite life cycle, while coloured matt and silk emulsions might last between two and ten years. Paints aimed at the high fashion markets may peak for two years or so before their popularity fades.
Research into the business of colour is becoming increasingly scientific. Colour affects moods and feelings. A pink kitchen encourages people to be more sociable, but a bathroom needs to be peach to reduce tension and help relaxation. Hospitals need to be painted orange or red to create an atmosphere of warmth to help patients relax. In its purest form, colour therapy is considered by some to be a branch of alternative medicine, offering relief from problems as diverse as anxiety, depression, asthma, insomnia and pain relief.
Recently, there has been a colour explosion in new areas, for example the traditional ‘white goods’ such as fridges and cookers which use coil coatings. This dramatically increases consumer choice; even domestic lighting now uses coloured powder coatings.
There is a great deal of interaction with the world of fashion, which will also affect the markets for soft furnishings and accessories. This has been encouraged by a number of fashion designers launching their own interior ranges, often taking their inspiration from the latest catwalk fashions. And Akzo Nobel’s architectural coatings business, Sikkens, has invited famous architects to define their colour schemes for the new millennium: ‘New colours for a new century’.
To date Alessandro Mendini and Sir Norman Foster have provided their colour sets. To understand what its customers are looking for, Akzo Nobel undertakes both quantitative and qualitative research. Akzo Nobel’s aim is to produce consistently in all its coatings businesses’ product ranges with a strong sense of brand, performance, image and appeal, spanning the decorative, architectural, automotive, aerospace, powder, coil, marine and yacht coatings sectors and inks.