Many would agree that the most difficult part of home improvement is knowing where to start. The decisions can seem endless — from figuring out lighting to decor and furniture — to the point of becoming overwhelming, making it a feat to get a project off the ground.
Enter Cracked Pepper, Behr Paint Company’s 2024 Color of the Year. Described as a “soft black” meant to accentuate a room and add a bold finish to interior or exterior projects, the hue is designed to give potential renovators some inspiration. The focus on inspiration extends to a marketing push led by Behr and partner Home Depot that leverages a mix of retail media, social media and experiential tactics.
“Highlighting this color is a great way for us to help consumers and really inspire them,” said Jodi Allen, global CMO at Behr. “Helping consumers find their perfect color is something that we really take pride in because we know it’s a pain point in the whole process. We want to help them get unstuck and make the painting journey a positive experience.”
Simplifying the process
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single color, but Behr was deliberate in arriving at Cracked Pepper as the right choice. The company surveyed 1,000 consumers about their preferences and attitudes about how color influences their overall outlook. Among the findings, 54% of consumers believe using black tones creates a new energy around the home, while two-thirds say it makes a space feel bolder.
“More than half of these consumers that we talked with said that painting a wall a darker color really will give the room more of a designer aesthetic,” Allen said. “[Our choice is based] on really listening to consumers about what they are looking for and what inspires them.”
To bring the color to life, Behr and its longtime retail partner, Home Depot, staged an experiential feature showcasing Cracked Pepper in Napa, California. The display included a kitchen, dining room and living room utilizing the color, along with accents and furnishings from the retailer that complement the offering in hopes of fueling inspiration.
“This is a way for us to drive awareness and increase engagement from a consumer standpoint with the opportunity to bring Cracked Pepper to life in their homes,” Allen said. “It’s really important not only to see how it looks in a room but to know how it makes you feel.”
Behr is also holding an Instagram sweepstakes now through Sept. 9, awarding five winners $10,000 each to transform their home using Cracked Pepper. To enter, consumers must follow Behr on the platform and comment on designated posts by the brand noting which room they would paint using the color, along with adding the hashtag #BehrSweepstakes. The activations together could help consumers visualize the way Cracked Pepper could fit into their space, while offering Behr the chance to form a connection with a wider range of consumers.
Leveraging retail media
Behind the scenes, Behr is leveraging Home Depot’s retail media network to identify and target potential consumers who are in the renovation mindset. Through the collaboration, Home Depot will use its first-party data to identify audiences that are shopping for projects that may involve painting, which Behr will use to target the Cracked Pepper message.
“We want to get in front of them at the right time and at the right place, whether that’s on homedepot.com or through our third-party partners like Pinterest, Google and Facebook, to create awareness and consideration all the way down the funnel to purchase,” said Molly Battin, senior vice president and CMO at Home Depot.
“Those are great opportunities to extend the reach of what we know about our customers and to work with the Behr team to make sure we’ve got the right strategy in place for our customers,” the exec added.
Home Depot launched its Retail Media+ offering in 2019 as a way to monetize its troves of first-party data by offering suppliers media-buying opportunities on the company’s owned properties, as well as via its offsite media partners. Since 2019, the number of retailers who have adopted this model has exploded. In April, Home Depot named company insider Melanie Babcock to manage the network and drive new sources of advertising revenue, profitability and sales.
However, a lack of standardization among retail media networks has led to some skepticism about the channel. A report by the Association of National Advertisers earlier this year found 88% of brand marketers feel somewhat or heavily influenced by retailers to purchase advertising on their media networks. Still, for her part, Behr’s Allen is sold on the advantages of Home Depot’s media network.
“What’s great about that is being able to understand our consumers better and that we are there on the journey,” Allen says. “It’s a great way to feel the connectivity all the way through the funnel and have a great relationship with our consumers.”