In his keynote speech Illumination Disruption, Jon Sayah of Fleco Industries/Lights Fantastic, encouraged the ALA audience to become lighting enthusiasts engaged in educating the population about the incredible effects that can be achieved to transform living spaces.
e’re on a crusade to enlighten people about the powerful effects of lighting,” Sayah remarked. “I hope we can join together to recharge the industry forever. In addition, I’d love for young people to embrace it and come into our industry.”
The discussion that retailers should be having with consumers has changed. “The conversation shouldn’t be about lumens and watts, but what we can accomplish with lighting,” he urged. “Companies such as Kmart, Kodak, and Blockbuster are remnants of their former selves. They lost their way. What got us here is not what is going to get us through the next 10 years. It’s time to embrace disruption. When disruption happens, new entrants come into the game and see the rules have changed,” he added, pointing to Amazon, Google, and Apple as examples.
“Why people buy lighting is more important than what they’re buying,” he emphasized. “We aren’t selling the ‘what’ of lighting anymore; it’s the ‘why.’ The ‘why’ impacts people’s lives. We sell solutions! People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We have a calling – a crusade – to supply people with better lighting.”
As solid-state technology has evolved rapidly, transforming the lighting industry, Sayah warned the audience that they must keep pace or be left behind. “We are at the inception of this disruption,” he said. With the advent of LED lighting and all of its capabilities, “we now have the tools to make whatever our customers want.”
Sayah cited examples such as Virgin Atlantic using colorful lighting to pleasantly affect customers as well as the benefits that are being realized by utilizing tunable white light in school environments. He mentioned the emergence of in-store mapping and suggested that even hospitals could benefit from utilizing embedded GPS functions in the lighting fixtures to help nurses easily locate items such as wheelchairs. “There is so much happening in lighting that goes beyond illumination,” he emphasized. “This isn’t a pipe dream; these ideas are real and are being developed.”
What sort of possibilities could lighting retailers discuss? “How many of you are talking about security with your customers? Safety and security are a great ‘why,’” Sayah stated. “Are you talking about implementing smart controls? This is all part of the disruption. Alexa, Smart Homes, and the Internet of Things are all part of your customers’ daily conversations now.”
Sayah then mentioned lighting’s effects on circadian rhythms and the health benefits that are being researched in the wellness community. “Lighting is becoming as important to health as exercise and the food you eat,” he said. “The importance of lumens is being de-emphasized as we talk about all of these other effects [that lighting can have].”
Lighting showroom conversations should be more service and solution-based, according to Sayah. “What can we do to open the possibilities up to our customers? Maybe ask what type of lighting their children need to study, or what type of lighting would make them feel safe? Most people who walk into our showrooms don’t know about these possibilities,” he remarked. “We can’t compete on price — and we don’t want to. We need to be the lighting experts. Lighting doesn’t stop at the socket anymore; lighting is tied into their Amazon Echo and their Nest thermostats.”
For all of the exciting developments going on in the industry that should boost the retail lighting business, Sayah said there are still stumbling blocks. “The biggest obstacle is complacency,” he noted. “We’ve got to think outside the bulb. If we can’t get ahead of this and introduce our customers to this new role that lighting is playing, then we will be falling behind.”
Sayah challenged the audience to get up to speed on the developments. “If you’re not learning something new about lighting every day, then you’re falling behind. We, in this room, should be leading the charge. Lighting isn’t a sleepy industry anymore. We are perfectly positioned to [expand]. Now is the time to demonstrate that we are the innovators!”