We're Selling Light Bulbs Wrong
I've worked in the lighting business for over a decade. I've installed lamps in every kind of fixture imaginable. From an HPL in a Source Four hanging over a balcony to a bi-pin halogen in an outdoor flood lamp. Yet when I go to Home Depot or Lowe's even I get a bit overwhelmed. There's a wall of lamps of different shapes and sizes all promising me amazing performance.
If Home Depot or Lowe's or Walmart or Target or any other big retailer is listening, here's a piece of unsolicited advice on how to make the American public feel better about their lighting choices. If you're a manufacturer here's what your marketing materials should talk about.
Start Speaking the Customer's Language
What is often missing is the common language that home and business owners are looking for. They want to know if the new light source is going to feel the good in the space. Here's an exercise. Go to Home Depot or Lowe's on a Saturday. You'll probably find someone looking pretty bewildered in the light bulb aisle. Go talk to them, but not as a lighting expert. I actually like to play totally dumb. I'll look at the huge display of light bulbs and say something like, "it used to be easier, right?"
You'd be surprised at what such a small comment will spark. You'll hear home owners talk about specific problems. The light at the top of the stairs no one can reach. The new light bulbs in the kitchen aren't bright enough. They'll talk about wanting things to feel brighter or softer. They'll talk in terms like "pretty" or "traditional" and they'll describe a lamp with their hands. You'll hear things like "I want a lot of light in my kitchen."
When we work with this stuff everyday it's easy to forget the people who actually live with our specs don't. Here's a short list of things you'll never here in Home Depot.
- "Jeez, how many lumens per watt does this lamp get?"
- "When will someone break the 95 CRI Barrier with an LED A-Lamp Replacement?"
- "Hmm I wonder what the accepted deviation in CCT is between lamps for this particular manufacturer."
- "Boy I'm really looking for this light bulb to save me money."
How to Change the Lamp Buying Experience
- Show off your stock. Light is meant to be experienced. Not talked about. If you're proud of your lighting stock then turn it on and and display it. Does it dim? Well then give folks dimmers to play with.
- Have someone friendly and knowledgable at the displays ready to answer questions.
- Label your display fixtures with what bulb is inside. This simple step alone would make it much easier for people to understand what lighting they're getting from a given bulb.
- No one is used to buying a light bulb and expecting it to last a decade or more. Stop talking about long term savings and ROI.
- Start talking about beauty. People want the light in their homes to be beautiful.
- Very few people care about energy efficiency in lighting. Perhaps they should, but they don't.
- Explain the kind of light the customer is buying in terms like "perfect for your side table lamps" or "perfect for your recessed cans" give people a scenario for use.
That's my unsolicited advice for the lighting industry. What's Yours?