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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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A Savvy Way To Introduce a New Line

Put it in the hands of consumers and teachers.

by Staff Report (July 16, 2007)

More than 20,000 decorative painters have already sampled Plaid's new FolkArt® High Definition™ (HD) Visual Texture paint, even before the product hits store shelves in August.

Introduced at the 2007 CHA Winter Show where it won a best new product award, the program has captured the interest of painters with special features such as its highly defined brush strokes and unique, light reflecting appearance.

While the paint itself can be credited with much of the advance excitement, Plaid has enhanced the anticipation by implementing several marketing strategies that have played a role in perhaps the biggest product launch in Plaid's history. "Product sampling and education have long been key to the success of any new product introduction in our industry," said VP of Marketing Debbie Henley. "By connecting with consumers first and giving them an opportunity to try something new, we are building awareness, generating excitement, and driving consumers to retail stores to find more."

For six months prior to the retail launch of FolkArt HD, Plaid implemented a variety of activities geared to reach different audiences. FolkArt HD's official debut was a TV home shopping event in March. The immediate feedback from consumers was tremendous:"HD paint is awesome ... like nothing I've ever used before! The results are spectacular!" And another: "I did my first [HD] project today and was amazed. The color and texture are wonderful!"

Responses were much the same in June when Donna Dewberry introduced FolkArt HD to more than 600 attendees at the Super Education convention. The artists tried HD for the first time, learning about the paint, its special attributes, and One Stroke techniques during several hours of intense hands-on training and painting.

This month HD One Stroke Teacher Training Kits will be sent to participating retail stores, designed to introduce teachers to the new program and techniques. A key kit component is a one-hour DVD produced exclusively for teachers. Donna Dewberry explains the program's components, product features, and benefits, and new HD painting techniques. Teachers are also given tips and techniques for successful class programs, plus a sample class curriculum.

Earlier this month, Plaid introduced FolkArt HD to the Society of Decorative Painters by sponsoring a painting contest with cash prizes. More than 2,000 members accepted the challenge and were sent an HD sampler kit and canvas blanks to submit for judging later this fall.

An additional 3,500 paint enthusiasts will have been introduced to FolkArt HD at major consumer shows this summer. FolkArt HD painting displays and technique demos were showcased at the recent SDP convention and will also be spotlighted at the upcoming Artist Expo Houston.

"This has truly been a focused grassroots effort to get the product into consumers' hands," Henley added. "Our goal is to generate excitement among consumers and increase visibility not only for the product, but the entire decorative painting industry."

"As Plaid is committed to innovative new product development, we remain equally dedicated to investing in marketing and education programs that drive consumers to retail," added Plaid President Mike McCooey.

For more information on the FolkArt HD program, visit www.plaidonline.com and select "catalogs."

Mike Hartnett comments.

Many years ago when painting was a very strong category, I walked the Society of Decorative Painters show with Pete Rutley, the VP of Craft World, at the time probably the largest distributor in the industry.

In those days there were approximately 20 lines of squeeze-bottle acrylic paint in the market, all scrambling for shelf space in retail stores. We turned at the end of an aisle and started another aisle and saw Decoart for the first time. "What?" we both uttered, "Another acrylic paint?"

We both assumed the field was already so crowded that Decoart's Americana line didn't have a prayer, regardless of its price or quality.

I asked Pete if he was interested in adding the Americana line. "Absolutely not," he said. "I already have too many lines of paint in the warehouse."

"What does this company have to do to get you to add the line?" I asked.

"I have to start getting requests for it from my customers," Pete said.

It wasn't too long after that conversation that Americana became one of the top three squeeze-bottle-acrylic lines in the industry. How did Decoart accomplish that feat? The company gave away thousands of bottles of paint, especially to teachers.

And yes, Pete added the line.

(To read previous "Vinny" columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To comment on this or other industry topics, email CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)

xxx

 

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