White emerging as top choice
Updated: 2013-08-19 06:40
By Han Tianyang (China Daily)
Dealers, paint producers diversify to tap new markets
White is likely to surpass silver and black as Chinese car buyers' top choice of color this year and even in the coming years, according to industry insiders and companies specializing in auto paint.
They also pointed out that carmakers are introducing more choices in China to appeal to the younger generation. Female buyers care more about colors of cars than males, according to research.
"If I have to name just one color that will see increasing popularity in the coming years, it's white," said Cindy Li, color styling manager of PPG China.
A leading manufacturer of transportation coatings, PPG Industries releases annual data on trends in consumer preferences for car color.
The company's 2012 report showed that white was the most popular car color globally last year, taking a 22 percent market share. The rest in the top five were silver, black, gray and red. And in the Asia-Pacific region, silver and white tied for most popular, each with a 23 percent market share.
Li said that white will continue on an upward trend in the future because of the increasing sales of sporty models and SUVs as well as the preferences of young buyers born in the 1980s and female customers.
Meanwhile, the market share of black will be slightly reduced in the future, she said.
"Black used to be the most used on cars of medium and large size, but with an increasingly rich choices of colors, part of the customers will choose gold beige and gray instead."
Li also noted that silver, a prominent car color for years, will see declining market share as well because customers are gradually getting tired of it.
"The genuine silver color will be partly replaced by beige, white beige, champagne gold and rosy gold," she said.
"Additionally, natural color, gold and orange will all become more popular."
More details and analysis of the trends in auto colors this year will be available in PPG industry's annual report, which will be released this October.
Xing Yanzhe, a Toyota sales consultant in Beijing, also confirmed that white is very popular this year.
"It's the mainstream color and is a common choice for family cars," Xing said, adding that silver and gray also sell well in his showroom.
"Customers usually won't choose a black car for family use. It's too business style," Xing said.
"And some believe that conspicuous colors like white and silver are safer on the roads."
At a Ford dealership in Beijing, white has also been a hit this year.
Liu Jing, assistant general manager at the dealership, said that they now offer ordinary white and pearly white for most models, and customer demand is high for both.
The size preference of Chinese customers also plays a role in these choices. Liu said some buyers think white cars look bigger compared to darker ones.
The situation has changed considerably compared to a few years earlier, research shows.
A Sinotrust survey in 2010 showed that black was the dominant color in the market then and white only ranked the fifth.
DuPont Performance Coatings found black took the lead in China last year, with a 24 percent share in popularity, according to its 2012 Global Automotive Color Report.
The report said sliver came in close second, with a 20 percent share. Gray held the third position, with 17 percent; white placed fourth, with less than 17 percent, and red placed fifth, with 9 percent.
The report showed white was the world's most popular car color in the world last year.
"Generally speaking, the color of cars in the market will surely become more abundant and diverse in the future," said Zhao Xia, director of the trend research center at China Fashion and Color Association. "Advances in paint technologies and new materials will expand the color spectrum," Zhao said, adding that color designers are the trendsetter in the area with their innovative explorations.
"Last but not least, market demand is another driving factor for more colors," she said. "The increasing number of female customers and young buyers will influence the popularity of car colors. Women are more sensitive to colors and the youth usually have individualized needs."
Zhou Rongbo, an Internet product manager in Hangzhou, recently bought a white Malibu.
"The color looks as good as in the TV commercial, and it is less easy for it to look dusty," Zhou said. "I had considered buying a blue one, but my girlfriend opposed the idea.
"And black doesn't go with my age or the car's sporty feature," said the 25-year-old.
To cater to more demanding and diverse tastes of consumers, carmakers now usually offer more than six colors for one model and have been constantly introducing new colors to the market.
Liu from the Ford dealership said that the brand now offers 12 colors for the Fiesta, 10 colors for the Focus and six for the Kuga SUV.
"Usually the best-selling color is what the carmaker promotes in commercials and marketing events, which gives customers a good first impression," he said.
Xing from the Toyota dealership said that a brown version of the RAV4 arrived at the showroom last year, and it sold quite well.
Later this month, Toyota will launch the next generation of its RAV4 in China. This time, the carmaker will offer a new color for the SUV - orange. Xing said he had seen the orange RAV4 when it debuted in the Shanghai Auto Show in April and commented that it "looks nice". "I believe it will be attractive to some customers," he said. Toyota also plans to introduce a pink Crown sedan in November, according to recent foreign media reports. The special color is designed to highlight the new, bold grille, and it is the latest signal that the company is moving away from conservative styling to more fashionable designs.
Li from PPG China said that the company has been working on new colors."Specifically, we are developing new colors for some consumer groups," she said. "For example, we are working on pink and purple for women, and for the young people, we are considering colors that are bright and personalized."
(China Daily USA 08/19/2013 page15)