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Retail lighting


REVOLUTION Consumer psychologist and marketing magician – the role of retail lighting designer has just become much more complex, says Paul Nulty

Light is no longer just a tertiary device to highlight architecture, it is part of the brand itself: Nike at Manchester United (Paul Nulty Lighting Design)


oday’s retail lighting designer not only needs to be a consumer psychologist, directing the moods and emotions of customers to drive behaviour, but a marketing magician, employing the latest technology to drive sales. We have always been creators and technical advisors, but our role has just become increasingly more complex. This has been propelled, predominantly, by three things: the increased competition for retailers, the advancement of LEDs and what they can achieve, and smartphone and interactive technology. The competitive landscape for retailers has changed; as well as competing against each other on the high street, they are now facing their toughest competitor, the internet. Bigname online shopping outlets selling products that span the whole consumer spectrum are winning the hearts of

Lighting Journal March 2015

customers who choose to shop from the comfort of their own home. Even among those who are still visiting stores there is an increase in the trend of showrooming – browsing in-store and then buying those products online; shoppers need more of a brand experience to get them to return to the high street. In response, retailers are employing innovative design techniques to lure customers into their stores. By educating our clients and through industry research we have a better understanding of how light drives emotion and manipulates behaviour. Once, our focus was solely on lighting as practical and aesthetic, but today’s customers no longer want a functional space that soullessly displays merchandise, they want to experience the brand and feel connected. The result is that lighting is now

regarded as an effective branding tool. For example, the Manchester United superstore at Old Trafford features the trademark colour red sharply and effectively through light, giving the brand culture inside the store an extra vibrancy. Light is no longer being used simply as a tertiary device to highlight architecture, it is now part of the brand itself. Trends in fashion retail lighting fluctuate according to consumer demographic. Recently the taste has been for dark and moody interiors, with high contrast, drama and light ratios of up to 20:1. However, an increasingly youthful society has encouraged the mid-30s demographic to start shopping at what were once regarded as younger high street outlets. Light ratios have decreased to 5:1 to accommodate the spectrum of ages. Today’s 30-year-olds may want