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Trending Up for 2010

I believe it was the immortal Winnie the Pooh who so sagely said, “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” With a history dating back to the early 1800s, balloons are still an accessible and affordable way to symbolize fun, celebration and cheer. And while the basic premise remains the same, each year brings new trends, new colors and new innovations.

Betty Vlamis, executive vice president of Pioneer Balloon Co., believes that consumers will continue to celebrate with home parties and planned events that specialize in comfortable settings to mingle more with close friends and family, despite the economy.

“While fiesta and luau settings are still popular themes, others will include nature-inspired and earth-friendly elements for large events,” Vlamis said. “Colors for this include earth tones and those inspired by trees, flowers, sunsets and other elements of nature.

“Home gatherings that are colorful, festive and inviting will continue to grow,” she continued, “as will interactive events and decor that create action and laughs; weekend event parties, such as card nights, movie nights, race weekends, sporting events, etc.; and teen birthdays and milestones, including Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Mis Quince and Sweet Sixteen.”

As for popular licenses, Pioneer Product Management Director Lisa Bennett asserted that classic characters like Winnie the Pooh, Spider-Man, Tweety and Thomas & Friends will be popular choices this year because of their selling strength from generation to generation. Retailers and consumers are looking for added value in all areas and these familiar characters deliver that value.

In addition, whatever characters are currently popular on screen will be popular on balloons.

“Disney’s new fall animated feature 'The Princess and the Frog' introduces Tiana, the first modern American princess, who is sure to be a huge success with little girls everywhere for parties in 2010,” Bennet said. “The Jonas Brothers will also continue to soar with 'Camp Rock 2,' and other 2010 movies — including 'Iron Man 2,' 'Toy Story 3' and 'Shrek Goes Fourth' — will also result in increased popularity for these characters.”

What You See ...
While color trends vary from event to event, Steven Mayhew, education director for Conwin Inc., said that for elegant events — weddings, Sweet Sixteens and Quicneaneras — decorators have started to see a demand for darker tones. Colors such as Pearl Onyx Black and Pearl Midnight Blue are being mixed with more subdued tones like Silver, Pearl White and even Pearl Pink.

Pioneer predicts that general color palettes for 2010 will be fresh, bold and derived from nature — such as fruit-inspired colors like Lemon Yellow, Granny Smith Apple Green, Cherry Red, Orange and Plum.

Bennett added that dots and stripes are still at the top of the design list for 2010, along with designs that focus on the simplicity of bright colors and minimal icons. “The party industry will also see more geometric forms that break away from the traditional round formats normally seen in rental items and decor,” she said.

For decorators looking for the newest designs, air-filled decor is one new direction the balloon industry has taken.

“Experiment with new additions you can add to air-filled columns, arches and sculptures,” Mayhew said. “Great ideas are fabric, real or silk flowers, foam board, Styrofoam designs and special effects.”

And consumers will still be looking to save some green while going green, as well. Sustainability trends and environmental improvements will continue to be a major focus for distributors, with many companies looking to improve on the environmentally-friendly materials used in production and distribution.

“Beach ball-like Bubbles Balloons from Qualatex are made with a stretchy plastic that inflates round and wrinkle-free,” Bennett said. “In addition to looking great indoors, they can also withstand the outdoor elements. They are non-allergenic, never oxidize and have a long float time.”

Bennett added that the solid-color Bubble is the next new release in this line and will be available in eleven colors to heighten balloon decor potential by allowing artists to create long-lasting columns, arches, garlands and more.

When it comes to innovative technology, Mayhew said it boils down to the fact that greater efficiency equals greater profits. He said studies have shown that no matter how fast an individual believes they can inflate a balloon, digital equipment still cuts the inflation process by almost half, if not more.

“Now is the time to assess your business and see what arrangements you are specializing in and upgrade from a basic regulator to a Precision Air or Dual Split Second Sizer,” he added. “Conwin has now upgraded both models to inflate latex balloons almost 45 percent faster than their predecessors.”

He added that a quality camera helps add to the bottom line, as a portfolio speaks wonders when filled with high-quality images of the designs. A picture of a beautiful arrangement taken with a poor quality camera can quickly diminish the quality of a decorators work.

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Originally posted Monday, Aug. 17, 2009

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