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The Somewhat Mysterious and Altogether Ambiguous Art of Selecting the “Right Color”

By: Chris Pandis
Posted: April 7, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Fashion colors at various awards shows held in late 2010 and early 2011 have included a plethora of pinks, deep greens, dark blues and blacks—as well as silvery grays, corals and coppery browns. The few reds that were evident were toned down and deeper and darker than in past years.

These colors are very much in line with those included in trend analysis and color forecasting tools created by beauty industry suppliers, including Clariant Masterbatches’ ColorForward 2011. But what, if anything, do fashion trends and forecasts tell you about what color your new cosmetic packaging should be?

People, in general, tend to respond to colors that reflect the broader influences on their lives. When they are anxious, they may tend to gravitate toward colors that intrinsically make them feel calm. When they feel empowered, they reach for products that reflect that same energy in design, application and, yes, color.

For example, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, young people were concerned about war, racism and poverty, and successful protest marches and sit-ins gave them hope that their personal commitment could change the world. This gave rise to bold, bright, lively colors in everything from clothing to kitchen cabinets.

Looking Ahead

Since brand managers are working now on products and packaging that will be on the market in 2012 and beyond, they need to anticipate which colors will be most effective in gaining consumer attention a year or more from now. Again, the question arises: How can that be done?