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Beauti-Tone is painting outside the lines.
The Home Hardware-owned paint brand recently partnered with Canadian company, Kavtek, on a new AR app that allows Canadians to see what a colour would look like on or in their home before they buy.
â€œI think itâ€™s something that consumers really latch on to,” says Doug Parsons, sales and marketing manager of Beauti-Tone Paint at Home Hardware. Colour is really what we do and that’s what customers really want as they look in the room, you know “how’s that blue going to look in a room?” “How is that [blue] going to make me feel, does it give me ambience or reflect my personality?”
Home Hardware previously has an AR app about five years ago that let people visualize products in their homes, but ultimately it proved early and didn’t take off, says Parsons. But he is confident now is the right time to dive back in, noting that mobile device penetration has continued to grow and the capabilities of AR technology has improved, especially among Beauti-Tone’s target consumer.
Beauti-Tone Paint’s customer base tends to skew a bit older, as people generally don’t buy much paint until they have their first home – meaning this is one app that isn’t targeting Gen Zers, but more targeting millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
Who doesn’t want technology that does something instantly, or makes things easier?” Parsons says, adding that both the novelty and usefulness of AR is just as appealing for older markets. “You can just start clicking and working away on an iPad, or anything else you have, in the space, that’s the really cool thing about it.”
Like many other paint brands, Beauti-Tone also has a website, which lets people play around with different colours in stock images of rooms. The AR app takes things one step further so that customers can see what their own walls, for example, would look like with a fresh coat of paint.
While these types of tools are helpful Parsons says customers still need to come in to a store to actually buy the paint, and more importantly, see a paint chip IRL before committing. And while new DTC brands in the U.S., such as Backdrop and Clare, are selling paint online, Home Hardware has not taken that leap quite yet, with the AR app meant to give customers inspiration, as opposed to helping them make a purchase decision.
“It scares us to sell something online without people having actually seen the colour,” Parsons says. The downfall of these devices is what hasn’t been perfected yet, which is you can get an idea of colour, but it’s not an exact match. So we’d always temper people, yes, to get an idea from the app of what you want, but you want the actual chip that it’s reflecting. The colours in the store will be accurate, and that’s still needed.”
But Beauti-Tone Paint, and the 55-year-old Home Hardware brand as a whole, is committed to freshening up its image and keeping pace with the times and may sell paint online down the line, once it can provide customers with the confidence that they know what they are getting. For now, Beauti-Tone is â€œtesting the watersâ€ for Home Hardware as a whole when it comes to AR and understands being what Parsons calls an :integrated retailer” is the future, meaning the St. Jacob’s, Ont.-headquartered brand is focused on delivering to the customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.