The Insights Behind Valspar’s Growth

September 23, 2013

By Ken Beaulieu

For more than 200 years, Valspar was a private label manufacturer of high-quality paint and coatings for Lowe’s and other independent retailers. But in 2007, Valspar made the bold decision to create a consumer-facing brand of paint to help its retail partners drive more growth and the company “better control its own destiny.” It not only called for product and marketing innovations, but also for a creative brand strategy that would distinguish Valspar in the do-it-yourself (DIY) segment.

Much like a fresh coat of paint, the plan has breathed new life into the global company. Valspar is now the number two brand of DIY paint in the U.S. — and the company has its sights set on becoming number one.

John Anton served as Valspar’s vice president of marketing for much of the transformation before being named vice president and general manager of the Ace business unit earlier this year. In a recent interview with me, he explained the insights that were of paramount importance to driving meaningful growth.

“As a coatings company with a heavy focus on the DIY segment, we would like for people to paint more frequently,” he said. “Consumer research tells us there are two key reasons why people don’t do this more often: first, it’s a lot of work to paint a room, and second, people lack color confidence. Over the past few years, our competitors have focused on trying to solve the first problem by launching products like paint and primer in one, intended to make the painting project less cumbersome. While we have also launched paint-and-primer offerings, we knew that the bigger opportunity was to solve the second pain point — how to instill more color confidence in the minds of DIYers. That is what led us to launch the Valspar Love Your Color Guarantee in 2012. Valspar is the only brand in the industry to guarantee consumers that they will love their paint color, even after it has been put up on the wall. If a consumer isn’t absolutely thrilled with the initial color of Valspar paint, they simply purchase another Valspar color and we reimburse them for the cost of their first color. This is now a core part of the Valspar brand promise, as it serves as a tangible proof point of our unique ability to give consumers color confidence.

“Instilling color confidence throughout the paint journey is also why digital is such an important tool for us,” Anton continued. “Consumers are seeking color inspiration from a variety of sources, including magazines, websites, Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, etc. As a brand, we have a presence in all these channels/outlets, but we also go further. We are the only brand to offer a free color consultation, through our new Valspar Color Connect App. We utilize Facetime technology to allow consumers, from the comfort of their own homes, to have a virtual color consultation with one of our trained color designers. Using the dual-camera technology of smart phones, consumers can show our Valspar color consultants the room they want to paint, allowing our designers to see their furniture and style aesthetic. Our consultants then drag and drop color chips of recommended colors, which get super-imposed over the existing wall to give consumers a virtual feel of what the new room will look like. This virtual consultation ends with our consultant sending an email to the consumer with all the information about the colors they discussed, along with closest retailer location, thereby providing consumers the color confidence they are missing today.” 

Anton will share Valspar’s remarkable story at the 2013 ANA Masters of Marketing Annual Conference, October 3-6 in Phoenix, Ariz. If you’re not attending the event in person, be sure to catch the live stream on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

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