Trends in demand for paint and gaps in the product line-up

Trends in demand for paint and gaps in the product line-up

Paint is the newest addition to the features of real estate that help attract buyers—and rightly so. “Paints are an important aspect of any building as their usage is not only concerned with aesthetics, which is paramount, but they are also designed to protect a building from fungus, algae, weat...

Paint is the newest addition to the features of real estate that help attract buyers—and rightly so. “Paints are an important aspect of any building as their usage is not only concerned with aesthetics, which is paramount, but they are also designed to protect a building from fungus, algae, weathering, etc,” explains Architect Indrajit Kembhavi of Kembhavi Architects. Customers are increasingly viewing the quality of paint as a differentiator, especially in the residential segment, opines Namrata Mehra, Head of Design, Marketing & Customer Centricity, Vikhroli; Lead, CSR & Sustainability, Godrej Properties. “So, we are looking at mandating the quality and specifications of paint as a part of segment-level standardisation.” What’s available? Exterior paints range from simple cement-based paints going all the way to weather-protective acrylic emulsion paints, which are manufactured using specialised additives to provide all-weather protection and prevent thermal gain, says Kembhavi. Interior paints vary from oil-based distempers to acrylic emulsion silky finish paints that offer extremely fine finished surfaces and are washable, he continues. “For metallic surfaces, the options vary from enamel paints to specialised metallic paints and also powder coating under factory conditions. For surfaces like wood, melamine and polyurethane (PU), polishes are also very popular and can vary from matte to super glossy finishes.” What’s trending? While there is a trend towards wallpaper in the residential segment, commercial and hospitality are trending towards matte finishes and generating fewer requests for lustrous finishes like gold and more for dull finishes, but in popping colours like teal and orange, says Amit Khanna, Design Principal, Amit Khanna Design Associates. The trend towards having high gloss polyurethane finishes on wood is reducing and there is a resurgent demand for natural finishing, such as linseed oil and wax finishing, he adds. “Concrete and metal finish paints have been trending recently,” shares Shobhit Kumar, Founding Principal, Rakhee Shobhit Design Associates. “Exposed concrete has always been one of our favourite finishes. And now as it is available in textured paint form, it makes the application much smoother. If it is used in dual tones, concrete paint imbues the space with warmth and richness. Concrete finish paints reduce the overall cost with respect to the actual concrete finishing and is a much more malleable option.” Residential customers tend to prefer a combination of a highlight (accent) wall in a dark shade and the other walls in a lighter shade, shares Manoj Pal, Chairman & Managing Director, PaintMyWalls.In, a paint services company. “In terms of finish, the preference depends on the use of the room. For instance, an eggshell finish is preferred for a living room for its soft and washable look; it is low gloss and more reflective. A satin finish is preferred for children’s rooms as it effectively resists mildew and is easier to clean. For very humid areas like washrooms and kitchens, a semi-gloss finish is preferred for its resistance to moisture.” Speciality paints are becoming extremely popular and growing at a rapid pace, according to Kembhavi. “These include a variety of textured options and varied finishes like concrete, stone, metal, fabric, etc.” “We believe that design for customer experience goes hand in hand with sustainable best practices,” says Mehra. “We use paints and wooden coatings with low VOC content.” Colour wise Paint selection is an art and has to be handled with the utmost care, cautions Kembhavi. “The right choice can make a space look beautiful but the wrong choice would make it gaudy.” Colours play a crucial role in interiors and are always essential to current interior design trends, opines Rupesh Baid, Principal Architect, AND Design Co. “To design in accordance with the latest trends, colours should match the look, design and feel of the house. Recently, warm colours are making a comeback. Also, pastels being positive, life-affirming and joyful can help branding identities, products and designs feel spring-like and energetic.” Pandemic impact No talk on trends in demand for paint would be complete without exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the quality and quantity of paint demanded. The pandemic has made everyone more aware of the impact of the environment on their health, opines Khanna. “We advocate the use of natural organic materials for indoor use, so fewer chemical-based sealers or primers.” With the emergence of the home as a sanctuary, design, planning and development are undergoing significant changes, says Mehra. “The focus on health and wellness has prompted the use of antimicrobial/antibacterial materials including paints and has encouraged home improvements such as using vertical surfaces more creatively and with new expressions. Colour choices remain varied but whites, blues, greens and other colours that invoke health and wellness seem to be trending. References from the healthcare industry are being used in other asset classes for both functional and aesthetic purposes.” “We’ve seen a noticeable demand for antimicrobial paints,” agrees Kumar. “Since the pandemic, homeowners have shifted from bold, dark colours to lighter shades of blue and green that help promote physical, mental and emotional well-being.” Also, he points out, “Work from home is here to stay, and with virtual meetings, residents are amping up their backdrops with an aesthetically pleasing setting or elevating once mundane walls by repainting.” A contrary opinion comes from Pal of PaintMyWalls.In. “We have tried promoting germ-free paint among residential customers but the response hasn’t been so good,” he reveals. “Paint OEMs need to invest in creating awareness of the advantages of germ-free paint.” In fact, Pal’s experience has been that as a result of COVID-19, most customers postponed getting their homes painted as they didn’t want to risk their health with painters working indoors, even with safety protocols being followed. “Consequently, the demand for painting services for occupied houses has reduced but the demand for vacant flats or rentals has started showing an upward trend,” he says. “Especially now as most painters have been vaccinated, the requirement for occupied houses will also increase.” What advantages do organised vendors offer over the unorganised sector? “We work with paint providers for their ability to provide consistent paint specifications as per our product requirements and service warranties that are part of our customer commitments,” shares Mehra. “These tend to be more common with organised players who have been in the business for a long time and those who continue to keep ahead of the curve with innovations, material science advancement and technological progress. Organised players may also have an ability to provide for better customisation in the future, something we are working on with our partners.” “For special finishes like concrete and metallic textures, we prefer to work in close collaboration with the respective providers,” says Kumar. “Organised setups ensure thorough and detailed finishing, avoiding any mishaps. Having the company on board also guarantees that if antimicrobial paints are used, they would be applied more evenly, ensuring complete coverage.” What’s missing? In terms of products, Mehra believes coatings for metals can be greatly improved. Khanna believes the product segment is strong but the labour market for finishing is still informal and underdeveloped. “Paint companies would do well to train painters in how to use and handle their products,” he suggests. In terms of methodologies, Mehra advocates bringing back traditional forms of plaster used in India, saying, “These could be a unique differentiator for the industry.” More differentiation would certainly be good for the industry. Agree? - CHARU BAHRI

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