New Hue Due: Blue

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The bright run of the stock market and economic growth around the world led manufacturers to introduce products with optimistic colors, such as yellow, green, and other upbeat hues. Now The Color Marketing Group, a non-profit association of 1,500 color designers from different industries, predicts that the next new color to appear in clothes, cars, and other consumer goods is blue.

But don't feel down. The move from green to blue simply reflects consumers' desire for a simpler way of life, and isn't based on economic predictions, says Melanie Wood, president of CMG, and vice president of design for Salem, New Jersey-based Mannington Mills. The blue hue represents water's color and texture, which have a calming effect.

"People are looking to get the clutter out of their lives," Wood said. "Pale, refreshing blues and grays will increase as society seeks more balance and harmony."

The use of blue, which once appeared on nearly 25 percent of consumer products, had fallen to below 8 percent of the market, says Bob Daily, color marketing manager of DuPont Automotive. "Being cyclical, a color will bottom out in popularity and then start rising back up," he says. "Green has been extraordinarily popular in the last few years as blue started to slide."

The shades of blue coming back include Blue Moon, a watercolor blue; Blue Planet, the color of the ocean as seen from space; and Cancun Blue, a bright, tropical-ocean shade. Other colors that have a blue tint include Par Four Green, a green with a hint of blue; and Pink for Sure, a blue-pink mixture, according to CMG.

CMG's predictions are based on trends in leisure time activities, the economy, and other factors. CMG arrives at color trends based on forecasts made by its members and discussions among 700 individual color and design professionals at its fall and spring conferences. While each participant prepares his own forecast, many forecasts are quite similar across different industries. A consensus palette emerges among CMG members after a number of workshops and debates. The group then turns those ideas into colors consumers can identify in products.

Wood cites the upswing in sales of bottled water, spas being built into homes, and consumers taking more spa vacations as reasons for the return of the Age of Aquarius.

"Water has a major impact in our lives, and we see blue moving back into fashion and other products," she says. "Water is a key element to our society now."

Shades of blue have already started to appear in fashions and home furnishings, says DuPont Automotive's Daily. But his market moves more slowly. "Blue is on the ebb of popularity in the automotive category. Blue buyers who switched to green in recent years may move back to blue."

Besides the comeback of blue, CMG also notes that more earthy tones are gaining popularity. New colors that are expected to appear on consumer products include Apache Red, not too blue or yellow; Sea Grass Yellow, representing the importance of green on yellows; Mellow Gold, a neutral yellow; Cosmetique Peach, peach with dusty rose; Toffee Brown, a hint of spice in brown; Beignet, a yellowed brown; and Cherry Fudge, a full-bodied red with a hint of brown. CMG projections of growing popularity of these colors is linked to greater sales of garden products and camping supplies, which suggests continued interest in nature.

Though bright colors are more visually exciting, the move to softer tones won't cause lackluster consumer interest, Wood says. "Technology and new lighting techniques will allow softer colors to be more exciting."

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