Our expert defends his position that selling green products to high-end consumers is still a good idea in a bad economy.
I just read your suggestions to a potential high-end manufacturer (“Out to Launch,” February 2009). What you didn’t tell them is that now is not the right time for such an introduction with the expectation of any sales. Haven’t you noticed that the economy is in the dumpster and no lighting showroom in their right mind is adding new lines, least of all a high-end line? I think you should also tell the reality of the marketplace as it is. Yes, green is a buzzword, but retailers are not parting with the dollars to purchase high-end ... even if it is green.
Ouch, now that you’ve bitten my head off, give me a moment to reattach it before responding. I agree that this is a tough time to launch a product line, but the potential manufacturer didn’t ask me if it was a good idea; he just asked how he might go about it. That said, stopping the introduction of new products is not a way to fix the predicament that the country faces. I truly believe that for the economy to start moving again, we desperately need small-business entrepreneurs who are willing to invest their ideas and money in the open market.
I didn’t mention anything specifically about selling to retailers; instead I talked about creating a Web site that offers full and complete information about the product line. If consumers see the fixture and like it, they will hopefully go to their local retailer to order it. And if retailers happen to see the products and like them, they could contact the manufacturer about carrying the line. Having a great Web site allows people (including retailers) from all over the world access to your products. A retailer in Dubai may not have the same view of the economy as many retailers do in the United States.
Lastly, in my previous column, I promoted offering hard-wired fluorescent options because California requires high-efficacy fixtures in kitchens, bathrooms and exterior decorative applications. Other countries like France, Italy, Germany, India, Mexico and Brazil have long used fluorescents in their decorative fixtures; not offering fluorescent versions cuts you out of these markets. Other countries went green long before we did; it is only a buzzword stateside. And it continues to gain momentum. Homeowners in this country are latching onto energy-efficient lighting in a big way because they are seeing their electric bills continue to rise, and they’re looking for a way to cut power costs ... even the high-end clients.