Forecasting 2007: Colorful Inspiration

Color gives society a way to express mood, attitude and style. Color cosmetics can do all that and fit into a purse. As in all areas of the beauty business, color cosmetics go through trends, from the intense blue eye shadow of the ’80s to the natural look of the late 90s and early 21st century.

Companies first look to their customers, current events and social trends when forecasting the latest and hottest trends. For example, Color Marketing Group (CMG) bases decisions on its members’ expertise in fashion, home design and cosmetics. It forecasts a down-to-earth color palette for 2007, reflecting society’s increasing environmental concerns. CMG predicts softer botanical greens; blues reflecting water and sky; neutrals mimicking the color of rocks, stone and soil; with deep reds and warm orange punch colors.

Companies use such forecasts as a barometer for color. At the same time, individual creative directors are inspired by a variety of experiences and this inspiration finds its way into their color collections. Fashion still plays the most influential role, with runways contributing inspiration, trends and fabrics that become part of color cosmetic collections.

“I look at fabrics, textures, runways and anything fashion-inspired. I am also influenced by music, nature, people, travel, architecture and the woods,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president and artistic director, OPI. The company recently introduced its Australia collection, inspired by the fashion industry with Australian culture overtones.

“One of the hottest beauty trends we’re seeing this season is darker shades for nails, even in spring and summer,” says Weiss-Fischmann. “And the Australia Collection offers two dark hues that look fabulous right now.”

Essie Cosmetics, Ltd. takes a seasonal approach to color forecasting and mixes it with gut instinct to produce its collections. “Colors are forecasted seasonally to coordinate with upcoming fashion trends,” said Essie Weingarten, president, Essie Cosmetics. “(The company) creates four color collections each year—spring, summer, fall and winter. It really comes down to trusting my instinct. I’ve been in business for over 25 years, and it has served me well so far.”

Contract Manufacturers Talk Color Forecasts

Brand owners and independent forecasting firms are not alone in gazing at the color-trend crystal ball. Among their wide range of services, many contract manufacturers also forecast colors—typically looking out 12 to 24 months. Although fashion is heavily weighted, these companies, too, study a broad range of industries, and social and lifestyle trends are also taken into account. COSi, in fact, unveiled two new concept product lines based on both color trends it identified for autumn/winter 2007–2008 and lifestyle/social trends.

COSi took inspiration for its new color concepts from the fabrics and styling that it expects to appear in mainstream fashion trends for 2007–2008, and the company’s Curator range focuses on socioeconomic trends, nostalgia and heritage, and mimics hard knits and felt textures. The color pallet concentrates on rustic, country shades, subdued metallics and ember reds associated with antique fabrics and linens. The Urban Angel range relies heavily on contrasts—focusing on heavy, dark eyes with natural lip color and vice versa. It features an industrial color pallet of raven, graphite and midnight shades that contrast with neon, electric blue and red patent high glosses.

“Our new concepts have been developed from extensive research into future global fashion trends,” said Bev Paddon, product development manager, COSi. “We are in the unique position to apply the color trend into our new product development. Each year we hold two series of color trend shows for global brand owners. It is our chance to share COSi’s knowledge of the marketplace with our audience and reinforce our reputation for innovation and quality.”

The concepts, which are currently base formulations in non-branded packaging, will be adapted to clients’ branded ranges for the coming seasons.

No Rules

There seems to be no hard and fast rules of where to look in trends analysis. Generally, contract manufacturers take note of everything—looking to other industries, studying consumer behaviors and examining the impact of colors on various markets. The absorption of larger, cross-market trends is followed up by discussions with consumers and field studies with industry professionals.

West Coast Cosmetics analyzes trade magazines and books that discuss up-and-coming trends, considers fashion forecasts and discusses the direction those fashions are taking. Looking at trends 12–16 months ahead, the colors the company will then formulate are designed to complement fashion trends.

According to the company, it also goes out in the field to interview cosmetic specialists such as makeup artists and consultants. In addition, the company holds discussions regarding the previous years’ successful product lines with specialists from department store counters. Samples of new formulas and shades are then submitted to existing clients.

Verla International’s color and trend tracking process gathers information through research on a broad range of areas and factors that influence behavior, preferences, work styles and lifestyles—including the evaluation of the impact of trends and colors on market segments. These trends are tracked one to two years forward, depending on the market category.

“This information is presented in the context of product, packaging and presentation boards—including multidimensional consultations that may include the identification of trends, indicators and shifts, idea generation, color and material concepts,” said April Vignone, manager, Verla International.

The company’s current forecast for “romantic, wistful, charismatic with a seductive edge, mixing silky pearls with intense sophisticated shades,” is portrayed through transparent iridescent, sparkling shimmer and luminous sheer tones and metallic glimmer in deep rich colors.

“Eyes range from satiny to deep romantic hues with the use of high reflective pigments,” said Vignone. “Eyeliners and mascaras will continue to develop new levels to dramatize and define eyes with dramatic high shine and shimmery glitter effects. Lips are soft and glossy, accenting fullness for a seductive, sexy look with light boosting pigments to create a vibrant and luminous appearance. Nails range from sweet and charming playful shades to full depth creams and metallic glimmering rich and intense tones—complementing the super sheer radiance of color cosmetics.”

Instincts, exploration of larger trends and consumer research—the path to successful color forecasting is not a simple one. Done correctly, however, deciphering the subtle shades of trends ensures the continued vibrancy of the segment.

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