LYON, France - The recent General Assembly and Annual Conference of CEPE, the European Council of the Paint, Printing Ink and Artists' Colours Industry, featured reports on strategies to deal with challenges facing the industry and major trends in society in general. The event, in Lyon, France, marked the group's 50th anniversary.

"CEPE has established itself as a valued partner of the European institutions and thus laid a solid foundation to successfully represent the interests of our industry," said the council's president, Neville Peterson.

In comments to the General Assembly, CEPE Secretary General Jean Schoder provided a brief overview of CEPE's development over the last 50 years. He said the organization's evolution "has been - and will always be - driven by the progress of European integration and the structural and technical changes in our industry." He said CEPE has formed "some powerful contacts" with European governments and other institutions, providing the basis for "successful advocacy on behalf of our industry."

The General Assembly unanimously adopted a proposal to open CEPE membership to suppliers of the paint, printing ink and artists' colors industries, a move that Peterson said reflected changes in industry that require efforts to increase cooperation with other "stakeholders." The assembly also admitted as affiliated members the recently launched paint associations of Hungary and Romania.

Also addressing the assembly and conference were Joseph Coates of the United States and Carl Rohde of The Netherlands, experts on societal trends and their importance to business and industry. Coates noted the aging of populations in many developed countries and discussed the impact of immigration and the greenhouse effect and their influence on how business is conducted.

Rohde, an authority on global mass communications, said a study on "the future consumer" suggests that product marketers seeking to reach the children of today must use methods that are interactive and offer some sort of "experience," a reflection of the influence of computer games and the Internet. Young people, he said, are also highly brand-oriented and respond to "highly personalized and emotional" advertising.