Editor’s Note: June 2017

Your Competition Has Never Heard of You

The days are dwindling when lighting showrooms know their rivals for local marketshare by name (i.e. the lighting store across town or a branch of an electric/plumbing supply house). Home centers offering stale designs and cheaply made products are no longer the threat they once were. Those customers have been migrating to design-focused stores (i.e. Target, Home Goods) for fresh looks on a budget and to the likes of Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn for more understated higher-end goods. And of course, there is the growing number of e-tailers.

Elbowing their way into the fray are the “smart” home/lifestyle product suppliers such as Apple®, independent alarm/security companies, Amazon Echo, Nest, and now Best Buy® partnering with Vivint® Smart Home to offer consumers smart lighting and whole-house controls via its online and bricks-and-mortar stores.

My biggest worry for the lighting industry is that now we will lose significant marketshare in smart controls to these other entities. The professionals in the lighting industry are experts in solving the compatibility issues (i.e. Z-Wave, Bluetooth, WiFi, LiFi) that have been cropping up for consumers as new products are introduced. However, we are still too much of a secret.

The average consumer who has never entered a lighting showroom in the past (and these are often the younger generations) have no idea what lighting showrooms have to offer.

I witnessed this first-hand with friends who own homes and make a good living. They page through issues of enLIGHTenment Magazine and frequently stop to gush, “Wow, where can I find that?” or “How come I never see things like this?” To which I ask, “Have you ever gone into a lighting showroom?” The answer is always no. “I guess it never dawned on me to go to one,” said the friend who happens to be in the middle of remodeling her house. 

I shuddered on behalf of the entire lighting industry. Here was someone with means, an immediate need, and yet visiting a lighting store never entered her mind. There is apparently a disconnect happening among the younger consumers that we need to bridge. Is the solution to do more targeted advertising on platforms (i.e. social media) where this group is spending the most time? Should there be more of an emphasis on educating members of the interior design community? Honestly, I’m not sure what it will take to attract the attention of younger generations, but I know what would help: sharing ideas and brainstorming creative solutions to try. The upcoming Lightovation/Dallas Market is the perfect place to discuss the topic at lunch breaks in various showrooms, or over cocktails at the end of the market day. Write in some of the ideas you’ve thought of, or heard others contemplate, and let’s get a dialogue going!

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