Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

Traditional paint can gets an update

December 9, 2001

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— While some consumer products get repackaged every year to make them appear more hip or user-friendly, the common paint can has remained unchanged for about a century.

Now, Sherwin-Williams Co., the nation's largest paint and coating company, is overhauling the familiar gallon container.

"The paint can, that wonderful bucket, has not changed for about 100 years," said Christopher M. Connor, chairman and chief executive officer. "Think of all the packaging improvements that have happened in the last century, and the paint can has just been plodding along."

The new design includes a screw-off top, a drip-free pour spout and a wide carrying handle on the side.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference: The can is square, to save room on the shelf.

The new can, which Sherwin-Williams launched three weeks ago, will cost consumers about 60 cents more for a gallon of paint.

The new can took two years to develop, Connor said.

It's too soon to say if the new design will replace the traditional round can. But the 100-year-old design is anything but user-friendly, he said.

You need a screwdriver to open it. When you pour, the paint drips down the side. When you hammer the top back on, the paint in the rim splatters your clothing.

"I have a closet of about 10 suits that have a nice white line right across (the middle), courtesy of working in paint stores," Connor said.

If the new design catches on, it could help Sherwin-Williams grow faster than its competitors and increase market share in a mature industry.

Connor also discussed a wide range of trends in the paint and coatings business. Among them:

More homeowners are paying professionals to paint their homes. Ten years ago, about half of the paint Sherwin-Williams sold was to do-it-yourselfers. That's down to about 30 percent today, because of an aging population and less personal free time.

New hot colors in coming years for rooms, home furnishings and cars will be greens and yellows.

Most decisions on household painting projects are made by women, including the brand and color of paint.

People stay in their homes an average of seven years. Even when they stay longer, they tend to repaint rooms every few years.

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