Silver Fades in Gray Economy?

July 22nd, 2009 by Editor

Have you ever been caught stocking a color or shade of film that was suddenly deemed out of style? Maybe you stocked up on silver, only to discover your customers are now moving towards bronze? For this reason, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to research and determine which colors customers will most likely desire? Well, if you’re a company like DuPont, that’s exactly what you do.

According to company officials, DuPont is the world’s leading manufacturer of coatings for new cars, as well as for the collision repair industry. For this reason, the company tries to stay on top of color trends by tracking and reporting on consumers’ automotive color preferences. The resulting findings are published in its annual DuPont Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, issued each December. But the company’s most recent studies have grown a little more complicated than those conducted in years passed. Researchers must rely on certain “soft” considerations, such as psychology and cultural influences, that can also have an impact on color preference. And it seems turbulent economic times have their influence.

“We don’t plan to change the way we compile and report our annual automotive color data, but given the current turbulent nature of global society, we decided to take a closer look at some of the qualitative influences that might affect consumers’ color preferences,” says Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. “It makes sense that the way people feel and the societal factors that shape those feelings could be significant in their color choices.”

DuPont contacted Dr. Peter Weil, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Delaware, for insights into cultural and societal influences on color preference. Weil, who has spent decades doing cross-cultural studies of art in a variety of geographies, focuses on a sub-specialty of cultural anthropology kno


“We have only known for the last 35 years that all humans biologically process color the same way,” Weil says. “In many traditional, non-industrial societies, people have a culturally-learned awareness of only four basic color ranges: red, blue, black and white. But in industrial societies, we are conditioned to perceive a wide range of colors because of globalization, marketing and other factors.”

If you noticed a shift and stocked up on silver films in the early part of this decade, Weil suggests there is a good reason for this. He says the popularity of silver, a color signifying prosperity, in the early part of this decade coincided with an economic boom.

“Some colors are indicators that a person is doing well,” he says. “Silver, for example, has been associated with high status, especially during the post-September 11 economic boom.”

As you might suspect, with the recent downturn, Weil suggests silver has had its day, at least for the present.

“The popularity of silver began to wane, though, about two years ago,” he says.

Though, under the circumstances, a proper marketing scheme might suggest that adding silver tint to your ride shows the world you’re still at large.

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  1. As the author of seven books on color, a color consultant, speaker and forecaster, there is some validity to what Dr. Weil has stated. But silver cannot be ruled out entirely as long as technology keeps bringing new finishes to the forefront and people continue to wear silver jewelry. It is a classic and still aspirational. And just as you suggest, a marketing scheme should not completely overrule silver- just look to new surface treatments so that it doesn’t look “same-old” in future.

    Leatrice Eiseman
    Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training

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