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Is store lighting becoming more customer centric?

By N Jayalakshmi | May 23, 2023

Rishu AnandCreative Director at Twenty North Chairman-Elect - Delhi Regional Chapter at the Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID), feels that lighting is certainly getting more customer focused, at least in certain categories, as the retail space itself gets more experiential. He talks about this and other aspects of retail lighting in this exclusive ‘Spotlight’ conversation with Retail4Growth, presented in association with Gardler.  

Being in the retail design space, do you notice any interesting new trends as far as store lighting is concerned? Any change in the way retailers are looking at their in-store lighting?

In the category that I primarily work with, which is high-end mattress brands, the shift that I see is that lighting has become more customer centric, rather than product centric. This is because there is a greater focus on customer experience and comfort. About 10 years ago, this wasn’t the case, as lighting used to be planned as per the product and it would often happen that customers while getting a feel of the product (the mattress), would complain that the lighting was too harsh or uncomfortable, and wasn’t relaxing enough. But now that is no longer the case. The whole approach to lighting design is changing. Today there is greater emphasis on subtle but strategic play of lighting. 

Plus, we also use some amount of automation in lighting at least in the mattress/bedding solutions category, wherein the lighting automatically changes as per the customer’s movement/requirements. This is especially important in this category where the customer needs to feel comfortable and relaxed in the space. 

Does this mean that there is greater awareness on the part of retail clients regarding lighting?

Well, clients are certainly getting smarter when it comes to lighting and are more aware today of what kind of lighting works and doesn’t work, given their brand positioning. They no longer demand uniform/departmental store kind of lighting and are conscious about lighting that is suitable for their brand category.  

Any specific challenges you face when it comes to lighting in your retail projects? 

In terms of challenges, I would say that while clients are more aware today with regard to the kind of lighting they need, there are still some gaps when it comes to their understanding of quality specs. For example, most of them tend to look only at the LED or the driver and end up compromising on other aspects. But they don’t realise that cheaper quality product means inconsistent colour temperature, which obviously impacts the end result. 

Lighting suppliers are obviously critical in this whole scheme of things, right? What criteria do you apply while looking for a supplier for a store project?

Yes; the main factor when it comes to lighting suppliers is their industry experience and standing, which is very important. We also need to know where they source from.  For example, although many products come with a warranty and replacement is provided on site, clients still need to be convinced of the product life and ROI. So credibility of the supplier is very important, and it usually gets established through word of mouth.   

Moving on, do you anticipate any change in the way lighting will be in the retail space? 

Yes, when retail space moves primarily towards the experiential mode, then clients will also move more towards experiential or mood lighting, which enhances the immersive feel of the product for the customers. Like I said earlier, lighting will also become more customer-centred, like the whole retail experience itself. 

Finally, any quick checklist you would like to share for the benefit of retailers, when it comes to approaching or planning their store lighting?

They should just start by defining the kind of lighting they need basis the following: 

  • Product category 
  • Target customer/market 
  • Brand positioning 

The rest will fall in place once there is clarity on the above. 

Pictures courtesy Rishu Anand 

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