A few days ago, Polyform Products announced several color changes to their polymer clay line up. Polyform Products produces Sculpey III and Premo! polymer clays along with numerous accessories to use with polymer.
In the announcement Polyform revealed the addition of several new colors to both the Sculpey III and Premo! lines. Along with the announcement of several new colors, however, was the revelation that a number of popular colors would be discontinued, including Red Pearl, Green Pearl, Cobalt Blue, Sea Green, Copper, Zinc Yellow, Frost, Fluorescent Green, Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent Red and Glow-In-The-Dark.
The announcement of the pending discontinuation of favorite colors has set off a firestorm on Facebook and elsewhere. One of the main reasons for this is that two of the colors, Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow are primary colors used in color mixing and in the creation of many artist’s custom color palettes. These two primary colors are also the basis for understanding color theory and color mixing in Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s popular and successful book: Polymer Clay Color Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes
I am heartened by the passion of my fellow polymer clay artists in their response to the Polyform announcement. While many of us look forward to seeing the new colors, we are also equally dismayed by the loss of two primary colors. Polyform has stated that “recipes” will be available on their website to recreate most of the discontinued colors. But as more than one polymer clay artist has asked “How do you recreate a primary color?” And given the variability in the mixing process, how will the same color be recreated on a consistent basis?
What disappoints me more, however, is what appears to be a disregard for the customer. Many are asking if a customer survey was conducted prior to this decision. That question remains unanswered. Unfortunately, it does appear that this decision may be based more on sales numbers.
Now I don’t know what percentage of people who buy Premo! are polymer clay artists. Nor do I know how many of those artists buy the soon-to-be-discontinued colors. But it seems, according to Polyform Products, that either there aren’t enough of us or we aren’t buying enough of these colors to justify their continuation.
As a small business person, I understand some of this logic. I, too, have discontinued color designs from my lines of artwork because those designs didn’t sell well or perhaps they sold well initially, but then sales leveled or fell off. I understand that businesses need to keep their product line fresh and maybe an item is discontinued, made available as a special order, or brought back for a limited time only.
But how does a company decide to eliminate two basic, primary colors that are key to the creation of so many other colors? Many have asked if Golden or Liquitex or Winsor & Newton would eliminate primary colors from their lines of paint.
Perhaps we were too complacent, believing that certain colors would continue to be made available. Perhaps Polyform didn’t fully understand the importance of these colors to polymer clay artists. The reality is that Polyform Products risks losing a number of customers should they proceed with their decision to eliminate Cobalt Blue, Zinc Yellow, and several other colors. They risk driving into the welcoming arms of their competitors the customers who have stood by them, tested and promoted their products.
As I posted on Polyform Products Facebook page “…It appears that you may lose many customers, myself included, because of this decision. And while customer loss may not directly impact your bottom line, the opinions of the artists and the recommendations we make when teaching and sharing could have a ripple effect. I ask you to reconsider this decision to discontinue zinc yellow and cobalt blue.”
If you’d like to add your voice to this situation, visit the following sites:
Cindy Lietz’s online petition
Carol Simmons’ blog
Maybe this groundswell of voices will convince Polyform Products to reevaluate their decision.
UPDATE: 11/22/10-Polyform has announced that Zinc Yellow and Cobalt Blue will remain in the Premo! line up. The voices of 100’s of polymer clay artists did not go unheard. Thank you, Polyform Products, for reconsidering your decision to discontinue these two essential primary colors. For more on this announcement, go to Tonja’s PolyClay Corner