Athletes and fans both like to see gold at the Olympics. In 2008, officials at Clariant Masterbatches believe they'll want to see purple as well.
The firm's 2008 ColorForward program has identified gold and purple as dominant colors for the 2008 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Beijing.
``Gold is always a big color with the Olympics, because it symbolizes the best, and both Americans and Chinese are very competitive,'' Clariant ColorWorks business manager Carolyn Sedgwick said in a recent phone interview. ``Now it's especially important because China is coming of age.
``Purple's going to be a big color for sports because it's an accent color to China's traditional red and because it describes personality. Purple also is associated with royalty, but it's modern rather than traditional. It's a breakout color.''
The program identifies the Beijing Olympics and four other cultural influences and links them with colors that Clariant believes will be widely used as a result. 2008 marks the second year that Clariant - based in Muttenz, Switzerland, with North American headquarters in Holden, Mass. - has assembled the program.
Clariant examines all the color matches it's done for customers in the past 12 months and anticipates what will happen in the next six months. A color that suddenly appears without a lot of other matches around it on a color grid might be labeled an emerging color, officials said.
``ColorForward is not our way of saying, `Buy this color,' Sedgwick said. ``It's to understand the link between color and culture and how color decisions might be affected.''
Another ongoing color trend that Clariant expects to continue in 2008 is the prominence of the color green, which has evolved because of increasing awareness of environmental issues.
``With green, the trend keeps getting stronger and influencing color more,'' Sedgwick said. ``The environmental movement had been about government and big business, but now it's become personal. It's about what kind of car you drive, what kind of product you'll buy. The colors are more mixed, random and muted.
``Green has gone through a tipping point and now it's really hitting home. Wal-Mart's packaging is reduced, people are driving hybrid cars and are really looking at these issues. These are personal choices, so natural greens like soft meadow and deep rainforest are very popular. We're seeing more gray and beige with greens and more layering of green with yellow and blue.''
Customers in different parts of the world use the program differently. Sedgwick said North American and European firms will enter meetings with Clariant with a color scheme already in mind, then ask if what they want to do is in line with color trends. Customers outside of those regions tend to be more open to new colors.
Regardless of region, producers and consumers are paying more attention to color now than they did in years past.
``A customer can revitalize a brand by pairing a traditional color with a trend color,'' Sedgwick said. ``We see this in any market that flips over every 12-18 months, like consumer packaging, personal care and household items. We're even seeing it in pharmaceuticals now. If it's in these [popular] colors, it's been designed recently. In cars, people will change color but not style of car.
``Cultural trends affect color choices. Think harvest orange and avocado green and you think of the 1970s. In 2006, bright orange was a big color, then in 2007, orange moved a bit more natural. Red's been warm for a while and it's staying warm.''
And even though 2008's not even here yet, Clariant - one of the world's largest makers of color compounds, color concentrates and plastic additives - will begin work on its 2009 ColorForward program in October.
``We'll start gathering global input then,'' Sedgwick said. ``We can do programs with 10 different resins at five different molders in four different regions. We manage it as a whole from a color point of view.''