Bright lights, big boxes

No surprise here: the warehouse home center channel dominates the interior and exterior lighting category, as well as ceiling fans, a category where big boxes enjoy a whopping 73.5 percent dollar share. But based on consumer data from NPD Research, the story in these bright categories seems to be a move to the middle price points from the discount/mass merchants on one extreme and the specialty lighting and electrical supply stores on the other.

According to research, the average price paid for total lighting was $44.82 in 2007, up from $40.22 in 2006. Broken down by channel, consumer spending at mass merchants jumped $6.20 to $28.88, while consumer spending at lighting and electrical supply stores declined fro m $88.29 to $74.50.

“Specialty retailers seem to be coming down, while warehouse clubs and mass merchants are going a little upscale,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. “These shifts may be driven by competition, or just a result of the overall economy.”

Energy efficiency has played an increasingly large role in the sale of lighting across the country in recent years, but NPD’s research shows an opportunity for Energy Star or other energy-focused marketing programs. Consumers who purchased 42.4 percent of lighting units did not know if their purchases were Energy Star compliant.

“To me this says that there is an opportunity for Energy Star or the individual retailer or manufacturer to provide education on their products, or be more aggressive in promoting the energy efficiency story,” said Delaney.

In the ceiling fan category, there was a slightly higher connection to Energy Star, but still consumers purchasing 39.9 percent of items did not know if their lighting carried the Energy Star label.

Environmental friendliness also is playing out in the exterior lighting category in the form of solar lighting. This category jumped from 17.5 percent of dollar share in 2006, to 22.0 percent in 2007. In addition to the energy savings of solar, the technology has improved in recent years. Still, the leading segment of exterior lighting remains the exterior wall mount segment.

OTHER FINDINGS:

Perhaps because of pressure from the big boxes, lighting & electrical supply stores appear to be selling less expensive products. While dollar share in this specialty channel declined to 9.2 percent in 2007, unit share increased to 4.1 percent.

Overall, the exterior lighting market has increased by 5.7 percent year over year.

Of the five income categories tracked, the highest ($100,000 plus) was the only category to show an increase in year-over-year unit share–from 25.3 percent to 29.9 percent.

Methodolgy

NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service is based on monthly tracking of 30,000 opt-in respondents in 70 categories. The data above reflects the period from January 2006 to December 2007.