2023 according to NCS: 24 colours for a new consumer consciousness

14 November 2022

In his talk about colour trends 2023, the creative director of NCS Colour, Karl Johan Bertilsson, said that purchasing decisions are 90% dependent on perceived colour. If you can’t resist the temptation to buy a jacket, if you pick a specific bottle from the wine rack, if you choose a given smartwatch, nine times out of ten there is a colour involved. Bertilsson explained that the reason why it is important to study colour trends lies in understanding how perception changes over time. NCS works on two levels to formulate its trend forecasts.

Level 1 / The repetitive cycle

Taste is rediscovered roughly every 20 years. This is evident in the fashion industry. It is no coincidence that Generation Z has taken over the 2000s style and called it Y2K. In other words: low-rise jeans, cropped t-shirt, total denim look, bucket hat, velour tracksuit. The 20-year trend loop, according to NCS, has to do with the psychology of colour. When a certain aesthetic is inflated, i.e. when we are subjected to the bombardment of certain colours, we get tired and head towards escape routes. In the current historical phase, the dominance of pastel-light tones is about to veer towards a darkening of these tones.

Level 2 / Global drivers

There are certain actors capable of directing moods and colours linked to them. Global drivers, on the strength of their authority and persuasive power, drive emulation. They are mega influencers.

A new consumer consciousness

In spite of geopolitical uncertainties, in 2023 there will be a return to normality according to NCS. Nothing we have seen before. It will be a new normal. Bertilsson elects next year as the year of renewal. The root ‘re’ will mark many behaviours. Hence: re-new, re-use, re-invent, re-cycle, re-store, re-think. This NCS forecast winks at environmental consciousness, conscious consumption and circular economy. Things will be repaired, they will be regenerated, they will last a long time. That is why they will be special. Uniqueness will be at the centre of everything.

Metaverse Revolution. Or what?

A kind of ‘Avatar economy’ in which we can consume in an ecological way. Because digital consumerism reduces the pollution of the planet by 90% when compared to the consumption of physical products. In this futuristic context, there are many innovations to be learnt. For example, NFTs. Non-fungible tokens are representations of a digital property, like a work of art that does not exist in the material world. In South Korea, for one, Seoul has pledged to become the first capital to plant roots in the Metaverse. Perhaps this is also why the colours of the Asian city, especially after sunset, are becoming increasingly important. Also because in digital, colours are indispensable tools of attraction. In short, according to NCS everything points to the Metaverse bringing a transformation in colour. RAL has also felt the same gust. It should be pointed out, however, that the Metaverse’s inevitability already appears to be creaking from many quarters. Many analysts argue that people are not attracted by this prospect. Maybe it is too early. Or simply they do not understand it. A bit like when it seemed that homes would have to be invaded by 3D glasses for the domestic transfer of a technology that, instead, continues to exist only in cinemas.

NCS colour trends 2023

Let us come to the point. In plotting its Trends 2023+, the NCS team oriented itself with the compass of the repetitive cycle and global drivers. It then divided the colours into four groups. It thus macro-categorised and simplified the moods.
Trend 1 – Cocooning
Trend number one is a very intimate story. It is written after years of pandemic and isolation. We can finally embrace other people again. It is therefore a very warm trend. Soft, light and comforting colours. The materials are organic. Wool, above all. To this trend, NCS assigns the name “cocooning”. A cocoon from which we emerge like gentle butterflies.
  • NCS S 2502-Y20R
  • NCS S 1020-Y60R
  • NCS S 0510-Y60R
  • NCS S 1510-R20B
  • NCS S 3030-Y40R
  • NCS S 1060-Y90R
Cocooning is a constellation of softly warm colours (pale pink, brown) in dialogue with a high-energy shade reminiscent of coral red.

Trend 2 – Passages
Trend number two is adventure: the path to the new normal. It occurs when we decide to leave the cocoon and take the next step. We are in exploration. We are in passages. This journey can be extremely rewarding, but also very difficult. We know it must be done, but it forces us to leave a position of comfort. A path conditioned by the great movements of the masses trying to escape wars and environmental disasters. Red and blue, combined together, are at the centre of this visual project. The materials in this case are rough and tough. Like denim.

  • NCS S 6502-B50G
  • NCS S 4050-Y90R
  • NCS S 5020-B
  • NCS S 2020-Y10R
  • NCS S 5030-Y
  • NCS S 2570-Y30R

The Passages trend is a red-blue track supported by earth tones. But also evident is a deep yellow, almost orange, of obvious automotive origin.

Trend 3 – Re-Genesis
Trend number three is closely related to the first two. If in number one we were in the cocoon and in number two we had started to come out of it, in number three we find the new normal already accomplished. Nine out of ten people believe that the pandemic has changed something in them. After lockdowns, many do not want to go back to what they were doing before. The desire for change is fuelled by Generation Z, which is demanding clear-cut positions of discontinuity. As much in politics as in business. Young people demand transparency, truth, ethics and inclusion. According to NCS, the third trend is the story of a people reinventing themselves.
  • NCS S 8505-B50G
  • NCS S 0520-G90Y
  • NCS S 6030-R50B
  • NCS S 1505-G
  • NCS S 1005-Y70R
  • NCS S 4040-B20G
Re-Genesis is the clash of light and dark tones. The material becomes hard. It is metal, but not in the common appearance. We speak of golden green and copper pink. But also petrol blue and dark purples to be combined with an unmistakably washed-out pastel yellow.
Trend 4 – Kidultz
Trend number 4 is moving into Metaverse. According to NCS (but we have more than one perplexity), companies are starting to sell digital products in a digital world. Generation Z is the engine of this transformation. These are kids who are destined to take on more and more decision-making roles. Like adults. But they are also young people who come from an era of depression and want playfulness, joy and happiness. Like children. Hence the neologism ‘kidultz’. The material here is glass. But also LED lighting.
  • NCS S 2502-R50B
  • NCS S 1060-Y50R
  • NCS S 4550-R70B
  • NCS S 0530-R80B
  • NCS S 1070-R20B
  • NCS S 0520-G30Y
Kidultz presses the accelerator of flair and pushes on orange, ultramarine blue and fuchsia. And it forces them to contaminate with sage green and sugar paper pastels, as well as with the neutrality of soft grey.

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