The Paint Industry

The industry is more complicated than you think it is.

April 6, 2006


Though the paint industry may seem very unglamorous and low tech,in reality it is one of the most challenging and complicated industries to be in.

The product

One has the feeling that all paints are the same, but in fact there are at least three different categories, namely decorative, automotive and industrial.That the characteristics and the purpose of the products in each category are quite different should be obvious from the names.Industrial paints are used in harsh environments(e.g. boilers),have to be able to withstand high temperatures, have to be very durable.Automotive paints are used for automobiles, decorative paints are used for housing and furniture.There are also many subcategories in each category.In the decorative category we have various subcategories like enamels, wood finishes, wall finishes(interiors, exteriors) etc. In the industrial category we have marine, powder coating, CRPs etc. In each subcategory we have various types.For instance in the wall finish subcategory of decorative paints we have distempers, emulsions etc. This subdivision is based on various attributes like quality, texture and so on.In this series of posts I will be dealing only with decorative paints as my knowledge is limited to it.

Decorative paints

One peculiar feature of decorative paint is that it does not fit neatly into FMCG or white goods.In fact paint shares the characteristics of both FMCG and white goods.The distribution channels are very similar to that of the FMCG while in terms of cost and durability it varies from that of an FMCG to a white good(if painting a house is involved).Nowadays paints also come with guarantees like those of white goods.The demand for decorative paints in a country like India is very seasonal.The demand is highest during festivals like Diwali,Pongal etc. One will be surprised to know that apart from usual dealer incentives,there are other factors like elections etc. which also influence the demand for paint and this makes life of the demand forecasters extremely difficult.

Expectations of consumers

Consumers also expect a lot from paints.They expect

  • Durability
  • Washability
  • Ability to cover up cracks
  • Protection
  • Provide lustre
  • Anti-poster properties

Knowledge of consumers

Knowledge of consumers as far as paint is concerned is very low.Except for the selection of the shade where the involvement is high,the involvement of the customers is very low in purchase. The main people who influence the purchase process are painters, contractors, dealers, architects.

What you buy is unfortunately not what you get

Though the consumer buys a tin of paint what he/she is actually interested in, is the painted surface and not the tin of paint he/she actually purchases.What complicates matters for the paint companies is that the though the quality of paint is under their control, the quality of the finished surface depend son a lot of factors(skill of painters, substrate condition, surface preparation,painting system, application tools,environment) not under their control.

4Ps of painting success

  • Proper surface preparation
  • Proper dilution
  • Proper priming
  • Proper painting
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