The concept of color affecting mood is nothing new. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese practiced chromotherapy, using colors to heal various maladies. Today’s color theory, color psychology and color therapy are our modern equivalents. What is less well known or familiar is that the opposite is also true. Mood can affect our choice of colors, and not just on an individual level.

And, interestingly, the state of the economy deeply affects the purchasing decisions of customers - from project scope to color choice - and the patterns cut across verticals. When there are changes in the economic climate, there is a sea change in color choice on everything from automotive and appliances to home furnishings, appliances and clothing to interior and exterior paint.

By understanding the very real impact the economy can have on design, you can leverage these tendencies to deliver exactly what paint and coatings customers crave.


Paint Colors that are Risky and Bold - or Muted and Safe?

Take the hard-to-forget disco era of the 1970s. While lifestyles were adventurous, and the decade was a defining era for design, color choices were interestingly muted. The playful approach to design went hand-in-hand with the idealism, radicalism and all-around social change that was taking place, and it should be noted that the difficult economy impacted the style’s color palette.

According to Bethany Seawright in her online article, Design Flashback: The Colors of the 70s, “The colors of the seventies were pretty drab in comparison to those of the psychedelic sixties. The country was recovering from the turmoil of the Vietnam War, and the desire for peace and calm was reflected in the dark wood and warm earth tones of the period.”

Colors such as avocado green and harvest gold were seen as the theme for this era and were often paired with a toned-down version of the sixties’ fluorescent orange. Futuristic pieces, such as plastic furniture, added somewhat of a playful element to this dim time.

“The lack of disposable income stemming from the decade’s economic recession shaped and defined the design of interior spaces,” notes this Interior Design blog. “A move away from consumerism, both socially and politically, brought – design-wise – an exciting blend of 1960s hippie crossover, beatnik and bohemian chic.”

That trend continued into the next decade, but did not last. The online article, 1980s Fashion: Styles, Trends & History, states, “The early 80s were somewhat subdued in color, where we see a lot of browns and tans and oranges. Blocky shapes were everywhere, and dressing like a tennis player was the cool thing to do.”  But as the 80s wore on, the economy rebounded and set up many for a period of growth, which led to riskier color trends.

And what could be more of a risk than neon? Soon after the deep recession of the 1970s and early 80s, the economy rebounded, bringing with it a style and surge of creativity – and one that’s hard to forget.

“Bright colored accessories like sunglasses, bangles and hoop earrings were a necessity. Teased hair, loud makeup and neon were an important part of this style. This style was obviously more popular with the younger crowd. But that didn’t mean ‘regular’ women in the 1980s couldn’t have fun. It was an exceptionally flexible time when a woman could wear skin-tight cotton stirrup pants with leggings and a giant turtleneck sweater one day - and parachute pants with a small v-neck top and a high-waist belt the next,” the article adds.

So, what was it that sparked this change? It was the advancing job opportunities and the boom of an economic upswing. Women found themselves in executive roles in the workplace, and searing hot colors began appearing in dresses, suits and coats. With an increased income, men developed a love for trousers and velour. Society found itself becoming bold and outgoing – so naturally, styles and colors choices followed.

And these trends hold true globally – across industries. For example, many parts of Europe are improving economically and this has created an uptick in more use of color in decorating, as optimism spreads. While the Southern European cultures already prefer a brighter color palette, positive economic trends are often harbingers of more widespread adoption.


When Paint Becomes Priority

In addition to affecting color choice, an economic downturn can substantially impact both home and commercial remodeling projects. People become concerned about the stability of near-term finances and the uncertainty of the future, which impacts consumer confidence and disposable incomes. Remodels and renovations slow as businesses and individuals find themselves more willing to “live with” the appearance of their structures or other assets.

One of the easiest and least expensive changes to make is repainting. A new coat of paint, tinted with a high-quality colorant can completely change the aesthetic of a space. It’s one of the quickest and most economical ways to refresh surroundings even when the economy isn’t at its best.

It is essential to understand how the economy affects mood, which impacts color preferences. Paint and coatings manufacturers, as well as global colorant providers such as Chromaflo Technologies, keep a close watch on these megatrends during the upswings as well as the eventual downturns. Because paint, and color, can suddenly become priority.