If You Build It
Laura Van Zeyl

When Pantone announced that its Color of the Year for 2013 would be Emerald, I braced myself for the green scene that would follow at the winter markets in January. I was not surprised to find front window displays awash in either products that incorporated variations on the color or played nicely with it as a backdrop. (Gold finishes looked particularly striking in this regard.)

It is now a self-fulfilling prophecy, I believe, that when something is declared to define an incoming year — particularly when the prognostication comes from a source as widely regarded as Pantone — it indeed ends up doing so. Research and development rushes to comply with the “market forces” bringing a look to the fore. Merchandisers scrap previous painting plans in favor of hues that support the new mandate, or bring products from elsewhere in a showroom (new or not) front and center where they now appear to belong.

For retailers, the takeaway from this is not necessarily “buy Emerald in bulk,” although you’ll now find plenty of options from which to choose. It’s that you can make any trend into a powerful and effective statement with enough conviction behind it. Whether warranted or not, your customers already look to you as trend experts. They may be far more informed these days about what is available to them and have a more refined sense of their personal preferences, but they are still looking to you to validate their choices ... or present them for consideration. The more solid your beliefs about what will sell and why, the more palpable enthusiasm your displays will have for conveying that clearly to the consumer. A confident purchase starts with a confident presentation.

For those who need to supplement their courage with the safety of an “in” color, Emerald (Pantone® 17-5641) is there for you, just as Tangerine Tango made it comforable for everyone to take risks with a reddish-orange last year. But you’ve certainly been on enough installations to see what homes in your area are wearing. You’ve monitored which shelter magazines or HGTV programs are most often brought up as idea inspiration, and you follow those closely. You read Residential Lighting religiously each month. (Right?) You are every bit the trend expert your customers expect you to be, even if you don’t give yourself credit for having that valuable expertise. The trick is behaving like one, allowing yourself to have as much authority as Pantone when you make a style assertion.

You’ve felt the gravitational pull toward newness at markets you’ve attended, and your customers will feel that visceral force, too. They just may need the added context of showing its “50 shades” to become true believers.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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