Residential Lighting: What are among the most surprising findings in your research about how showrooms can tap into the home builders’ market?
Don Winspear: It was surprising that, though half of the 200 home builders we interviewed considered themselves “very familiar” with local showrooms, a comparable proportion indicated they had not visited a showroom in the past month. Showrooms need to actively take their message to the builder market, rather than waiting for home builders to come to them.
Builders can be a loyal group. One half of the builders have one specific showroom that is their favorite. One quarter have no loyalty at all; they will shop different showrooms as they see fit.
Home builders from around the country believe that the homeowner is still the most influential party when it comes to buying lights. Still, four in 10 of our [builder] respondents report they are directly involved in that decision. That suggests showrooms may gain additional influence by marketing their products and services directly to builders.
RL: Why do you think working with builders has so much potential for showrooms at this time?
DW: Showrooms have not actively communicated with this market, and more than one-third of builders believe they are an underutilized resource when it comes to lighting. Showrooms should consider developing strong relationships with builders who are not loyal to a single store. Or they could work to shift local builders’ loyalty from another showroom to theirs.
RL: What is the number one thing a showroom can do to obtain a larger share of the builder market?
DW: Market to them. Nearly two-thirds of builders in the survey received no marketing communications from showrooms in the month prior to this  research. And about one-half of those want to get more information from lighting showrooms. Target the messages on issues that are critical to that market: special pricing, a variety of styles and designs, lots of samples and low everyday pricing.
But showrooms should also be careful they do not bombard builders with their marketing efforts. If I were a showroom owner, I would consider sending builders formal literature three or four times a year.
RL: What is the biggest challenge showrooms confront in corralling more of the builder market?
DW: Finding more and creative ways to collaborate with builders. Showrooms should equip builders with tools that help them bring up lighting to homeowners [since] many homeowners don’t pay the topic enough attention.