Do research claims on colour stack up?

Rob McGlennon
Rob McGlennon

Things may be tougher but the ‘grey pound’ still has big potential, according to Deceuninck’s Rob McGlennon – especially when you’re talking about flush and foiled products. 

Consumer research is thin on the ground in the UK window and door industry.

Deceuninck is one of the companies to make the investment, commissioning YouGov to conduct a series of polls into colour and sustainability in the last two years. So, do the results stack up?

“You have to remember that these guys come into it without preconceptions,” say Rob McGlennon, managing director, Deceuninck. “You and I, we ‘live and breathe’ windows. You can be too close to a market. Sometimes you need to step back and to get a fresh perspective.

“That’s why independent research on colour, on sustainability, is so valuable – there’s no commercial bias, you get an independent view.”

This is exactly what Deceuninck did in its study into end-user attitudes to colour.

At a headline level, it revealed that 75% of homeowners said that a choice of frame colour was important to them when it came to shaping their purchasing decisions for replacement windows and doors. And 96% said that matching the overall appearance of their property was also vital.

The YouGov study also suggested that while 43% of homeowners surveyed still chose white, greys (including anthracite and agate) were the first choice for 17% of respondents. Irish oak and rosewood polled 7% and 6% respectively; greens 5% and black and cream each recording 4%.

And when asked to identify all the colour options they would consider, the report shows that white – while still popular at 54% – lost ground to grey colour options at 41%, followed by natural woodgrains (22%), cream (18%), greens (14%) and black (12%).

The results also revealed that a majority of homeowners still consider security and energy efficiency when replacing window and doors and that, for some groupings, price point also remained a significant factor – although it was identified as a significantly less important one for older homeowners, aged over 55 (56%).

For this age group, aesthetics and a match to the overall appearance of the property scored highly (69%) as did the importance of buying from a trusted supplier.

Rob continues: “For me, one of the take-away points from the research was that age had on colour preference – both in terms of the age of the property and the age of the individual homeowner.

“By extracting it, we were able see which colours were most popular but also to understand what was coming down the line, by looking at the UK demographic change and profiling future customers.

“It’s allowed us to be far more targeted and will continue to support our forward strategy.”

Did Deceuninck’s colour research stack up in 2022?

“The honest answer is that for us is that it didn’t. But then our customer base doesn’t reflect the industry average – they sell more colour,” Rob says.

As a general ballpark, according to Deceuninck, greys accounted for around 40% of the market in total in 2022. Natural woodgrains accounted for roughly 19%, with black taking the next biggest share at around 17%. The remainder made up from a combination of greens, greys and creams.

Deceuninck’s figures follow the market to a point but with notable exceptions. Anthracite grey, accounts for only 8% of its foiled product. Agate grey 10% -– significantly higher than the market average. Creams also come in far higher than the industry average at 8%.

“In a focus on colour, the interesting thing is that white woodgrain is still a very big seller for us, accounting for more than 30% of sales,” Rob says.

“Agate grey also saw growth.

“That tallies with the research results that we saw from YouGov but also the projections that we were able to make based on UK demographic change.”

So which colours will be most popular in 2024?

Rob argues that recession, inflation and the squeeze on household budgets in the next 12-months, may skew the market for colour and foils.

“There are some underlying trends,” he says. “Anthracite grey may not have had its day quite yet, but its appeal has peaked. Agate grey and other more subtle colours are in the ascendency.

“This may be even more pronounced this year in a toughening market. Those with more cash to spend, may be looking for a more subtle and considered window finish.

“The over 50s, those most likely to have cash to spare, and who have historically always spent most on home improvements, express a preference in research for agate grey and cream, as well as white woodgrains.”

Deceuninck Ltd
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