As the lighting industry kicks off the new year with the Dallas International Lighting Market this month, many topics will be top of mind. The first phase of the new nationwide light bulb regulations rolls in this month, and manufacturers will debut even more energy-efficient product offerings.
Consumers are also much more savvy—and price conscious—and the industry is learning how to better respond to them.
With fewer housing starts, lighting showrooms have to figure out another way to reach the consumer, said Rick Wiedemer, president of Hinkley Lighting. One progressive showroom owner he recently visited said the mall next to him was his competition. “‘I have to look like they look,’” he told Wiedemer, in terms of merchandising and other aspects. “The competition is not the showroom down the street, it’s not the Internet—it’s every retailer in the region.”
Jeff Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends, Kichler, agreed. Brick-and-mortar retailers have to market themselves and offer solutions and additional value to the consumer, he said. Otherwise, “it becomes a decision based on price,” he said. “If you offer the same service as [a retailer on] the Internet, then there’s no compelling reason for the consumer to purchase from you.”
And of course, LED is a hot topic. “LED is coming fast and furious and so are the changes to the technology, light output and cost,” said Maria Scutaro, of Murray Feiss. “Fast changes in technology are always challenging to integrate into a product like ours, which is not changed out often.”
“Energy plays a part in every decision we make,” Wiedemer said. “It’s all about green and renewable materials—or the perception that it is.”