Pantone announces the color of the year and reminds us: It really is hue you know

For 21 consecutive years, Pantone has “forecast” the color of the year, and its prediction has historically led to an uptick in sales of on-color products


December 9, 2019

Last week, the color authority Pantone announced its color of the year. People are waxing poetic about the meanings conveyed through Classic Blue… and speculating how much blue stuff they can sell.

(Yeah, that friend who gets a little hyper about the latest Crate & Barrel catalog already mentioned it.)

The Pantone color of the year announcement is a big deal… 

Especially for people in the fashion, design, and marketing industries.

To make its yearly forecast, the Pantone people travel the world to study where and how colors are used. They say the COY is not a reflection of aesthetic, but of zeitgeist. Classic Blue, they say, “highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation.”

It pays to know your eggshell from your ecru

Pantone makes money selling color swatches and formulas, as well as color consultancy. Pantone itself doesn’t report earnings, but its parent company, Danaher Corp., raked in almost $20B last year. 

Meanwhile, consumers do seem to make decisions based on Pantone’s pronouncements. The online luxury retailer Moda Operandi saw sales of purple-colored fashions increase by 28% after Ultra Violet was named COY in 2018, and last year’s Living Coral announcement was followed by a 62% spike in pink items.

Pantone hopes to snag a share of some of this consumer activity. This year, it released a music track, a berry tea, and fabric to complement its color predictions. If that doesn’t give you a stable foundation, we don’t know what will.

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