White displaces silver as the most popular car colour in Japan & North America while the Europeans prefer black

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  • A MONTHLY REPORT FROMREG ADAMS

    JULY 2009

    In this issue

    MARKETS 2-3API defines criteria for new grade

    of baryte, with 4.1 SG

    PLANTS 3-6Mondo & Haicheng Beihai form

    talc JV in Liaoning, ChinaPanzhihua Dongfang opens

    40,000 tonne/y TiO2 plantShengdaTech is building another

    nano-CaCO3 plant at ZiboTwenty Microns will install GCC

    capacity in India & MalaysiaHimadri joins the ranks of Indian

    carbon black producers IMI Fabi buys more talc capacity

    in Sardinia, ItalyImerys makes further cutbacks in

    UK kaolin operations

    COMPANIES 6-7BASF will save 400 M/y by

    integrating Cibas activitiesCromex (of Brazil) foresees 10%

    rise in masterbatch sales DIC forecasts 15% drop in sales

    revenue from pigments & inks

    EVENTS 8

    As the worlds largest supplier ofautomotive paints, DuPont has anatural interest in studying trends incolour preferences evinced bycustomers for new cars. Better still, ithas published its data every year since1952 in the annual Global AutomotiveColor Popularity Report (Ref 1). Untilrecently, colour preferences tended tobe fairly uniform in the major marketregions. During the 1950s, black wasthe most popular colour for carsworldwide, while trucks and vans weretraditionally red or white. By the 1990s,white had become the leading colour,particularly in North America andEurope. In 1999, on the verge of thenew millennium, silver became themost popular colour in all majormarkets for the first time and silverremained in pole position everywherefor the next seven years. Thus in 2006,19% of all new cars in North Americawere painted silver compared against16% white, 13% grey and 13% black.Elsewhere, silver was even morepreponderant: 28% in Europe; 27% inJapan; 26% in South America; 24% inChina; and 21% in South Korea. Silverwas described as the hi-tech colour ofthe future and the world of consumerchoices seemed as if it really wasbecoming more flat, ie more similarfrom one region to another.

    It would be too tabloid sensationalistto say that those perceptions wereblown apart in 2007. But it is certainlytrue that the data indicates significantshifts in colour preferences, withdiffering directions of travel in various

    parts of the world. Silver is no longerthe most popular colour for new cars inthe major industrialised countries. Butwhereas white has displaced silver asthe most popular colour in Canada, theUS and Japan, European customersnow prefer black.

    The popularity of black in Europehad been steadily edging up from17% of new vehicles in 2004 to 24%in 2006, to 25% in 2007 and to 26%last year. Medium/dark grey has alsobecome markedly more popular inEurope, rising from 11% in 2004 to18% last year. Meanwhile, whitedropped from 8% in 2003 to 4% in2006, but then bounced back to reach10% last year. Silver has declinedfrom 30% in 2003 to 20% in 2008.

    In Japan, silver faded from 37% in2004 to 22% in 2007, but revived lastyear, accounting for 28% of all newcars manufactured last year. Blackrepresented 13% of the total in 2004,rising to 19% in 2007, but falling backto 13% in 2008. White as the colourof choice has doubled from 16% ofthe Japanese total in 2004 to 32% in2008.

    Perhaps surprisingly, the NorthAmerican market has been lessvolatile and the shifts in colourpreferences have been more gradual.Silver represented 18% of the NorthAmerican total in 2004 and it stillrepresented 17% in 2008. But white,which held steady at 16% in 2004 and2006, took the leading position in2007 with 19% and edged ahead stillfurther last year, accounting for 20% of

    WHITE DISPLACES SILVER AS THE MOSTPOPULAR CAR COLOUR IN JAPAN &

    NORTH AMERICA WHILE THE EUROPEANS PREFER BLACK

    P I G M E N T SFOCUS ON

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  • all new cars. Black has also becomemore popular in North America, risingfrom 11% in 2004 to 17% in 2008.

    Black, white, silver and grey maybe grouped together as non-chromatic finishes, though nowadaysthese include a variety of pearlescent,colour-variable, liquid metal and othereffect finishes. In Europe, within thetotal of 26% for black in 2008, effectfinishes accounted for 22% and solidfinishes for 4%. In Japan, within thetotal of 32% for white, pearlescentfinishes accounted for 24% and solidfinishes for 8%.

    Speaking about the Model T car in1909, Mr Henry Ford said: Anycustomer can have any car painted anycolour he wants, so long as its black.(Ref 2). Nowadays, car purchasersreally can have more or less any colourthey want without paying anexcessive price premium but itremains true that chromatic finishes ofone sort or another blues, reds,greens and yellows are still minoritypreferences in all parts of the world. InNorth America, chromatics account for34% of the total. In the EU, the figure is27%, while in China and Japan thefigures are only 20-21% and in SouthKorea the incidence of chromatics is aslow as 4%. The Russian market showsa higher preference for chromatics thanmost, with blues, reds and greens eachaccounting for 12-14% of the total, buteven in Russia the non-chromaticfinishes (notably silver) account for54% of the total.

    There are some interestingly sharpdifferentials in consumer colourpreferences between different countriesin the same region. Within LatinAmerica, the Brazilian market isdominated by silver and black(respectively 31% and 25% of thenational total), whereas in Mexico white

    and black are equally popular (at 20%each) and blues and reds are quiteprominent. Within Asia, Indianconsumers demonstrate more affectionfor colour (reds at 12%, blues at 8%,yellows at 7%) than their counterpartsin other countries. Orange is identifiedas a colour preference in China (by 3%of the market), but it is not separatelyidentified in any other country.

    As a sequel to the latest ColorPopularity Report, DuPont Daily Newsrecently published an article titled:Does the recession affect colourchoices? Addressing this question,Prof Peter Weil (of the University ofDelawares Cultural AnthropologyDepartment) said: In traditional non-industrial societies, people have aculturally-learned awareness of onlyfour basic colour ranges red, blue,black and white. But in industrialsocieties, we are conditioned toperceive a wider range of colours. Allsocieties assign certain values toparticular colours. These values candiffer quite markedly from one society.For example, red is generallyconsidered to be a lucky colour inJapan, but an unlucky colour in manyparts of Africa. Green is oftenconsidered unlucky in Scotland,Ireland and the US. Yellow isassociated with bad luck in Spain.White is the traditional colour formourning in many Asian cultures andas such has been regarded as anunlucky colour; the same logic appliesto black in many Western societies.

    According to Prof Weil: Silver, forexample, was associated with highstatus, especially during the post-2001 economic boom. But thepopularity of silver began to waneabout two years ago (coinciding withthe first signs of the recession in theUS). He went on to say: White is

    associated with transition. People (inthe US) are choosing a more luxuriousand durable looking white, not the plainwhite that they remember as chalkingeasily and appearing bland andinstitutional. Colour choice can also beassociated with security or risk. InWestern Europe, black and grey oftenappear on expensive cars, signifyingsecurity, wealth and risk aversion. Onthe other hand, young people are morelikely to take risks by specifying bright,attention-getting colours for theirsmaller, less expensive cars.

    Reg Adams

    1) Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, 2008.Available free of charge from DuPont, Website:http://www.dupontrefinish.eu

    2) My Life & Work, 1922, by Henry Ford. Out ofcopyright and available free of charge as E-Text7213 from Gutenberg, Website:http://www.gutenberg.org

    3) DuPont Daily News, 9 Jul 2009. Published byDuPont, Website: http://www2.dupont.com/media_center/en_us/daily_news

    MARKETSAPI defines criteria for new grade ofbaryte, with 4.1 SG

    Baryte (or natural barium sulfate) hastraditionally been an important sulfateextender pigment, with a highresistance to acids, alkalis and otherchemicals. In pigment applications,whiteness and low abrasivity are keytechnical criteria. At a time when paintin certain markets was sold by weightrather than by volume, high-densitybaryte was a useful ingredient inbudget-paint formulations. Nowadays,nearly 80% of the worlds baryteoutput is used in drilling muds for oiland gas exploration and production.

    2 JULY 2009

    F O C U S O N P I G M E N T S

    New Vehicles* Colour Popularity % of regional totalsNAm Braz Mex EU Russ China India Japan Korea

    Black 17 25 20 26 14 31 7 13 25Blue/Turquoise 13 3 12 13 12 9 8 7 2Brown/Beige 5 3 1 4 2 0 4 2 0Green/Olive 3 2 2 2 13 2 1 3 0Grey, medium/dark 12 16 13 18 3 15 4 7 3Red/Pink/Purple 11 8 11 7 14 5 12 3 1Silver 17 31 17 20 30 32 27 28 50White 20 11 20 10 10 1 28 32 18Yellow/Gold 2 1 3 0 2 2 7 0 1Other colours 0 0 1 1 0 3 2 5 0*Passenger cars, SUVs, MPVs, people-carriers, light trucks & vans (manufactured in 2008) Source: DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report, 2008