Tool Time
Laura Van Zeyl

Far too many exhibitors at last month’s Dallas Market held back on new product introductions, anticipating a slow show. Although their prediction turned out to be correct — most showrooms we visited reported light traffic (despite adjusting for June) that tapered off even earlier than normal — kudos to the lines that rewarded those who did make the trip with something remarkable to see … and shop. Hopefully buyers returned the favor with on-site orders, and we’ll pay our own homage by showcasing the latest and greatest on our pages in upcoming issues.

In the meantime, I did want to highlight one standout introduction that wasn’t even product-related. Hinkley Lighting debuted a 20-page consumer magazine called Lighting Made Simple. The publication was the result of research the company had conducted to identify areas of improvement in the customer experience when shopping for lighting. Not surprisingly, the process is intimidating for most people — it’s not done often enough to establish a comfort level and they’re terrified of making a mistake. The average lighting showroom experience can be overwhelming, with options clumped overhead out of context and without adequate sales staff or supplementary information to make sense of it all. Even the branding that can create reassuring touchstones for customers in other categories is nearly absent in lighting.

Lighting Made Simple attempts to demystify our category, using Hinkley’s abundant high-quality lifestyle photography and punchy text that focuses on quick, easy tips to diffuse frustration in the lighting selection process. Interior designers were consulted for their advice and quotes, providing that all-important validation. Yes, all of the products showcased are Hinkley’s and there’s a page devoted to connecting with the company in various ways online. But the overall information is refreshingly general and I wouldn’t be surprised if the company’s investment had a “greater good” payoff similar to what the American Lighting Assn. enjoys with its annual Lighting publication.

Lighting Made Simple is available through Hinkley’s Honors Showrooms, on request from the company’s consumer or trade advertising and through its website. Even if you don’t use this particular piece, there’s definitely something that can be learned from its approach to make shopping for lighting more consumer-friendly.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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