Tessella Support Services plc

Akzo Bets on a Color App That Will Paint Your Living Room


Courtesy of Tessella Support Services plc

Akzo Nobel NV, Europe’s largest paint maker, plans to boost revenue during the busiest season for home renovations with a smartphone app that helps decorators choose the perfect color for their houses.

Shoppers can use the Dutch company’s Visualizer app to study what a shade would look like in their living rooms, kitchens or on outside facades. The app includes pre-programmed colors based on a user’s preferences and was recently upgraded to enable painters to share ideas with family and friends for feedback.

“What we identified is a lack of confidence with color choice,” David Menko, chief marketing officer at Akzo Nobel’s decorative paints unit, said in a phone interview. “One in three customers struggled to buy paint because they didn’t know what it would look like on their wall.”

Paint makers including Akzo Nobel’s U.S. rivals PPG Inc. and Sherwin-Williams Co are using new technologies such as visualizing applications to gain market share in decorative paints, a market valued at about $62 billion last year, according to a study by consultancy Orr & Boss. Akzo Nobel’s app enables a user to see how a color would look on their walls by moving their tablet or smartphone around, thanks to panoramic video, whereas apps by some competitors have not been equipped with that functionality yet.

Growing Demand

The Dutch paint maker’s app, developed with String, Tessella and London-based Webcredible, has been downloaded over 10 million times and is available in 40 countries including China, India, Brazil, South Africa, France and the U.K.

“That’s kind of the only way they can compete, because paint is paint,” Nathalie Debruyne, an analyst for Bank Degroof Petercam, said by phone. The app probably won’t immediately deliver a significant impact but could help Amsterdam-based Akzo Nobel maintain existing growth momentum, she said.

Akzo’s first-quarter decorative-paints sales volumes were 6 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier, mostly due to a stronger appetite for the company’s paints in Europe and Asia. The unit accounted for about 25 percent of revenue in the first three months of the year.

Akzo is scheduled to report second quarter earnings July 19, with overall sales expected to drop 2 percent to 3.86 billion euros compared with the same period last year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Shares rose 2.3 percent to 53.95 euros at 10:01 a.m. in Amsterdam.

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