Innovation, education and value grows electrical
The lighting industry has recently gone through significant change with the on-going transformation into LED. This is particularly evident with almost all lighting now sold in Australia being LED, according to Martec General Manager, Ken Dick.
“The number of products and suppliers in this category has grown significantly in the past 12 months, as new players from different industries expand their existing businesses into LED lighting,” Mr Dick said.
“Martec has launched several new LED products in the past 12 months, including LED downlights, LED globes, LED ceiling fans and LED bathroom heaters. The launch of these products will also be followed up with new ranges that are designed to complement and add to the existing new ranges. I believe Martec has experienced strong growth in the past few years, due to the launch of innovative products and recognising on-going consumer needs in the expanding LED lighting sector,” he said.
“Martec remains not only innovative, but committed to quality and products of value, which is why it continues to review its portfolio and create innovative products,” Mr Dick said.
“We are constantly developing innovative products to suit customers’ needs. In a competitive environment, we are particularly aware of the value that is required to meet our customers’ needs. We have our own development team locally who work closely with the manufacturing facility, and who also ensure quality and design standards remain high,” he said.
Mr Dick believes the sector is at the most competitive it has ever been, particularly with so many new players, from different industries entering the market.
“As competitors try to develop their complimentary products, there are 100’s of new products entering the market every few months and it is a constant battle to keep ahead and current in the industry.”
“The number of new players, along with the price pressure on the manufacturers and suppliers, often causes confusion in the market place as the terminology is different from traditional lighting. There is also a greater expectation from customers who are better educated on products and are demanding higher standard of product technology than ever before,” he said.
LED drives growth
The electrical fittings, lights and accessories market continues to undergo growth and change and it is this on-going change that is being led par-
ticularly by technology and choice, according to HPM’s General Manager Retail Sales, Jason Dove.
LED solutions continue to lead the lighting category which not only provide strong consumer benefits in energy savings but also enhanced life. It is for this reason that LED downlights, floodlights and lamps now represent the majority of sales and are filling shelf spaces across the market, according to Mr Dove.
“The emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) and automated solutions have also begun to impact the electrical category, with greater education and value seeing this area develop more. Function and style is also providing choice to consumers in the area of wiring devices; while integrated USB chargers and colour plates continue to grow,” Mr Dove said.
2017 will also see the emergence of many new and exciting products, according to Mr Dove, who said that at the forefront of the new products will be LED floodlights, internal sensors and new wiring devices.
“Already a steady sales uplift is continually evident throughout the category. It seems strong growth is particularly evident in specific families such as ventilation and LED lighting, and this is due in large to new product development and range expansion,” Mr Dove said.
“The category is also experiencing a lot of change, with technology particularly driving this change, while also providing enhanced options for consumers which is why the development of new product is so high.”
“HPM prides itself on high quality electrical and lighting products developed for the trade professional. Due to our strong reach, demand has been created for replacement and extension via the retail channel,” he said.
Several key challenges also face the category, according to Mr Dove, who said redundant technology is one key challenge. This may also be the result of constant and fast paced change with distributors and manufacturers needing to source contingencies for old and redundant technology inventory.
“Although keeping ranges fresh takes energy and investment, it does yield great returns. Education and training remain central to ensuring technology products are understood in terms of benefits so consumers can make easy confident choices. However quality and safety also need to be considered at every stage of the purchase decision,” Mr Dove said.
In with the new for Gerard Lighting
Gerard Lighting recently refreshed its 100-year-old Crompton brand, packaging and range to deliver a bold new look and exciting new products to the consumer market, according to Gerard Lighting General Manager, Ben Mills.
“The refresh includes a modernised look for consumers, but because we are a brand with a lot of history, our brand was possibly attached to old
technology type product,” Mr Mills said.
“A lot of our competitors are identified as primarily LED businesses as they don’t have long-standing technology because they have only been around for a few years. Part of our refresh is showcasing to the consumer that we are at the forefront of new technology and innovation.”
“We have been around for a long time, and we have got the experience in this market, credibility and brand equity. The customer knows us and trusts us, and we are on-trend,” he said.
Not only was a refresh launched, but Gerard Lighting also went to the market with a new, innovative product aft er getting with consumer groups and asking them what they wanted to see with new technology.
“After working with our engineering division, we went to the market with an Australian designed, innovative product – the Crompton Hornet LED Floodlight. This was aft er we identified that there was no architectural floodlight that was aesthetically pleasing for backyards. From consumer groups we also discovered that they wanted something slimline and flexible that would sit under and disappear under an eave, and this is what our designers came up with. Th e new Hornet LED floodlights were successfully launched in mid-February.” Mr Mills said.
“Another launch we have undertaken is a range of on-trend pendants and exterior lighting for Crompton. The range includes an overall suite of products, including brick lights and wall lights launched in recent months alongside a full range of Crompton Lamps,” he said.
Another big trend that is evolving throughout homes and multi-residential is lighting control, according to Mr Mills, who said the trend is particularly prevalent in younger generations who are early adopters of technology. They want lighting control throughout their homes with a system that is simple to install and use,” he said.
“In May we will launch a very simple lighting control system, called Diginet Sitara, controlled by smart phones and tablets. The user can manage lighting through an easy to use app that they download for free. Not only is it very simple and cost effective, but it also does not require any additional wiring. So it is designed to be very user friendly for any consumer,” Mr Mills said.
Industry of change
Mr Mills has seen plenty of changes within the industry during his 30-year career in lighting, after he commenced his career in 1988 with a company called PIERLITE.
“After completing a number of roles within the company, I became general manager of the business by 2001. It was after this time that the company became the biggest lighting manufacturer in the Southern Hemisphere (at the time) to a $200 million plus business. Today PIERLITE is a trade brand through Gerard Lighting,” Mr Mills said.
As part of Mills’ passion of the lighting industry he is a board member and director of ‘Lighting Council Australia’, which is the peak industry body representing the lighting industry and its members.
Today, Gerard Lighting is also the largest lighting company in Australia and New Zealand with over 650 employees.
“We not only pride ourselves on the quality we bring to market, but also on our point of difference. We have a portfolio of brands but our key brands are PIERLITE Sylvania, Crompton and Diginet,” Mr Mills said.
Gerard Lighting also manufactures bespoke type products, in the commercial and industrial space, which is also a big point of difference according to Mr Mills.
“Most of our competitors have a box in, box out type of strategy where they go to China and bring in a product. However, it is very hard for them to modify this product to bring it in-line with what electrical engineers, or what architects want for their spaces, to create an ambience and an atmosphere. The great thing is we can do all of this here because of our ability to manufacture products to clients’ needs and because we have the engineering and the manufacturing capability on-site,” Mr Mills said.
The biggest issues the lighting category faces now is in regards to compliance, according to Mr Mills, who said non-compliant products remain prevalent because there are so many products coming into the country that are non-compliant or procured directly from off shore suppliers.
“There are also products being bought over the internet that are non-compliant within their quality or their wiring as well. There are so many products coming off shore now, that retailers need to remember how important it is to sell only recognised brands. You only have to look at the number of recalls that are now happening in the market,” Mr Mills said.
“The important thing is with lighting we are responsible for a product that is supplied with electricity, so if you get that wrong, you are playing with people’s lives. We already have all the quality procedures in place, so we have a compliant, electrically safe product that goes to market, which is why retailers should only be selling recognised brands,” he said.
Lighting remains very strong in the consumer segment, particularly due to the increase in multi-residential and construction business at the moment, according to Mr Mills.
“A lot of our new products may be used in multi-residential units and I think people are looking for good quality on-trend products with LED. LED products have come a long way in the last few years.”
“In the early days suppliers attempted to fit LED into older style light fittings. So these were quite big fittings, with a small intense light source. Now the market has matured we have been able to develop architecturally aesthetically pleasing lights for the home, both indoor and outdoor, and there are some beautiful products coming to market because of this new technology,” he said.
Looking into the future of lighting, Mr Mills said technology will drive future growth within the lighting segment.
“Currently Gerard Lighting is a company that sells lights and a little bit of lighting control. In the future, we will be a business that sells smart lighting control solutions. So everything will be smart lighting or lighting that has smart control in it with some ‘dumb’ lighting, as we like to call it,” Mr Mills said.
“We have certainly had to move very fast in the last few years. We have had to move quickly to change with the speed of technology, which has enormous challenges with a business of our size. But we have the momentum now and we are excited about what is here and coming,” he said.