In the summertime, when the weather is fine, it’s not difficult to court consumers into painting their interiors. Windows and doors can be opened wide, and with more time off to do projects, homeowners can relax and pick out the right colors, the right primers, the right patterns, stencils, brushes and pans at their leisure.
At least, that’s the perception. But retailers can still have strong cold weather sales in the paint and sundries department by shirking the “off-season” stereotype, maintaining marketing materials and highlighting those products that just work better in winter.
“The industry has changed a bit, because it used to be a lot more seasonal than it is now,” explained Alistair Linton, director of retail development for Benjamin Moore. “December used to be a very quiet month for us, but with painting contractors trying to keep in business year-round, we don’t see a tremendous difference [between the seasons].”
Barbara Hershfelt, senior product manager for Masterchem, which sells its line of “KILZ Casual Colors” in Wal-Mart stores, agreed the season has changed in recent years.
“Our business is slightly seasonal, but the pro business is pretty consistent,” she said. “Of course, in the case of a lot of primer and paint, much of it is used indoors. You can certainly tackle indoor projects in the winter.”
Since pros provide steady business throughout the year, Hershfelt noted that retailers she works with keep pro-friendly products prominently displayed throughout the year.
At the Janovic Plaza paint store in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park area, high-end tastes prevail year-round. But still, some of the simplest products make the biggest sales in the winter months—an example is Sheetrock’s all-purpose joint compound, stacked neatly in a high-traffic area of the store, noted store manager Oniel Green.
Displaying products prominently, whether they’re for pros or consumers, can make all the difference no matter the weather. Many customers, especially those who are planning big paint projects, start the color hunt in time to be prepared by the spring “in-season.”
“We’ve seen some research that shows consumers are looking to make decisions about their summer home projects in January or February,” Hershfelt said.
To capitalize on the market for “planners,” displays should be kept up throughout the winter months to attract would-be big spenders come spring, Hershfelt recommended.
“Especially early on in the season, people are into the holidays, and they’re inside a lot,” Linton said. “They’re thinking about their living space and how they can make some changes to create a different environment.”
For customers who have decided they are going to go forward with a paint project in the winter, retailers can better appeal to them by highlighting products that are quick-drying and low-odor—meaning less time with the windows open and living with fumes indoors.
According to Mike Goldstein, senior brand manager for ICI’s Glidden paint division, certain labeling can help lead customers directly to products that could be ideal for wintertime projects. For example, he said Glidden’s Ever-last paint—a very low-odor, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) product—is featured exclusively at Home Depot under the retailer’s “Eco Options” label.
“It’s in an area where customers can see right away that it’s under the Eco Options program,” he said. “It is something that can seriously help cut down on the wait time.”
Hershfelt said KILZ highlights its primers in the retail setting, which help to make paint go on faster—in one coat rather than several. At Benjamin Moore, the Aura line of paint promotes its low-odor qualities prominently.
“It’s low odor, it’s very easy to use,” expla