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Lighting Up the Year Ahead

Feb. 2, 2019
The lighting market is consistently outpacing growth in overall electrical equipment sales, and new technologies such as LiFi networks promise to keep the momentum going.

The opening of 2019 finds established lighting manufacturers repositioning themselves and newcomers, including startups and bolt-ons by existing manufacturers in adjacent categories, making for a lively and competitive market.

The growth is there­ ­ — the outlook we discuss in “Bright but Unclear” based on Channel Marketing Group’s latest snapshot survey shows the outlook is robust — but the price competition and the price increases, the uncertainty over the impact of import tariffs and the constant campaign to educate consumers, designers, specifiers, contractors and everyone else about the value of modern networked lighting technology puts lighting product sales in a spotlight.

The ongoing changes in lighting system technologies and efforts to advance new use-cases for connected lighting systems hold the promise of even more growth, as you’ll see in our discussion of Light Fidelity (LiFi) technologies.

With GE’s sale announced a few months ago of Current by GE to private equity firm American Industrial Partners, and its GE Lighting consumer lighting business on the block, all three of the dominant lamp manufacturers who were once included in portfolios of some of the world’s largest conglomerates are now independent and more focused operations.

Osram sold its remaining Europe-based fixture manufacturing to management and its Sylvania Lighting Services ESCO business to WESCO International, which makes for an interesting fit.

China-based lighting giant MLS rolled its startup Forest Lighting into its larger LEDvance/Sylvania operations after buying out its partners from the deal to purchase the business from Osram and taking full ownership.

Controls manufacturers have been adding lighting to their mix, such as in Legrand’s recent purchase of spec-grade lighting manufacturer Kenall and Leviton’s moves to consolidate its lighting acquisitions into a separate division.

Smaller manufacturers and newcomers, home-grown or imported, have been making significant inroads throughout the market that currently is seeing most of its activity in small to mid-sized construction and renovation projects where the leverage of the “Tier 1” suppliers isn’t quite so dominant.

The lighting market seems like it’s been in a constant state of change over the past three decades, and Electrical Wholesaling has chronicled the impact of technologies such as compact fluorescent and T8 lamps, electronic ballasts and LED lighting as they hit the market. But it’s a different sort of maelstrom this time around, as we not only have new technologies like app-based wireless lighting control, connected lighting and LiFi hitting the market that require an even more sophisticated grasp of the technology, but new lighting manufacturers and market channels and tariff-induced pricing pressures to deal with. EW’s editors hope the following articles will help you gain a better understanding of these new challenges.