I am often the last person to hear about the party I was not invited to. I just discovered that a select group of experts have been gathering every year in an undisclosed European location to select the Color of the Year. I am told these individuals give elaborate, well-researched presentations and have rigorous debates before making their collective pronouncement.
The question the average person might ask is, who cares? Well, evidently a lot of people. A publication summarizing this meeting can be obtained for a mere $750. That publication is snatched up by several individuals and companies, many of whom are connected with the fashion, make up, packaging and floral industries.
These industries’ success depends on tapping into the next trend. What drives the need for this information is the realization that people unconsciously prefer things they have seen before. People prefer the familiar partly because it is easier for the brain to process – reduced effort generates positive feelings. In Jonah Berger’s book, Invisible Influence, he outlines the various research efforts that explain the warm glow we get from things we have seen, heard or experienced before. For example, we are more likely to find someone attractive if have seen them before.
This invisible force influences who we marry, the names we choose for our children, the cereal we eat in the morning, the shirt we buy and countless other daily decisions.
To be fair, the Color of the Year is not an arbitrary section but a serious endeavor grounded in identifying emerging trends and human behavior. However, once selected these collective decisions create a powerful feedback loop that, in turn, has a big influence on what products becomes popular. What is the life span of a popular trend? Is this a ploy to make the items you purchased last year seem less familiar? When and how should this information factor into our compositional decisions when we make something? Just so you know: The Color of the Year in 2017 was Pantone 376C, shown above displayed on a stylish mug available for $14.99 + shipping and handling.