The electricity business worldwide is at the centre of changes brought about by new technologies and rapid merging of multiple business verticals. These changes are increasingly apparent in India as well. This transformation which involves substantial enhancements in renewable capacity, the push towards electric vehicles (EV), electrical charging stations, storage, new software-driven experiences and above all the changing face of the utility.
Filling it up vs charging
Most automobile companies have announced plans for EV’s and the market is expected to expand for these products. In the push towards electric vehicles, there is considerable excitement over the need for electric charging stations which will power these vehicles. There is much to be done since at present EV charging stations in India stand at just a few hundred. This space is likely to see considerable action in the coming years as the EV infrastructure will need charging sites for various uses. Offices, multiplexes, residential complexes are the possible places where these are expected to come up soon. It will change the current car fuelling paradigm where fuel is only available at petrol pumps. There will broadly be two kinds of charging, trip continuation charging and destination charging. Destination charging will be done at the end of a journey and will be at homes and offices and will utilise lower voltage AC charging to deliver energy into the vehicle. Trip continuation charging will be done at the service station and will involve fast charging. The more significant challenge though is behaviour change. How will consumers adapt to charging a car vs filling fuel?
In an earlier era, lighting was a much simpler affair. One went and purchased fixtures once. Light bulbs and tube lights were replenished, as and when needed, typically at the local electrical fittings store. The entire house had a similar lighting schema.
Things are different now.
Now, people experiment with lights. Lighting schemas for each room may differ, maybe it’s colour, maybe it’s the technology or maybe it is the visual impact of the room that they want to enhance.
The projects are not one off but instead an ongoing experiment with aesthetics and beauty in their lives. The brand experience then is about experiences over a lifetime of interactions.
Whether the customer is redesigning an existing space or working on enhancing a new one, the broad path remains largely along research, store visits and purchases. Perhaps in some cases there is an implementation partner (architect, interior designer, contractor) who is an interface. In the spirit of our times, the customer has choice. But does each choice offer an experience that helps the customers with what they set out to achieve? To create the perfect well lit room!
Brand choices in conjunction with services like Houzz provide customers many options to explore. What’s interesting is how things are noted for later reference. The photo of an interesting lamp, technology checklists, the link of an interesting site, the price details sourced from a friend, contact numbers of key people to contact may all make their way to Evernote, Pinterest and similar services. A quick mobile search for directions and the store to find the perfect lighting solution is invariably found. The ease of accessibility, parking options certainly make their way into conversations when shortlisting stores.
There are questions and expectations as the store visits commence. The customer wants an opportunity to discuss the big idea they have. Someone to guide them with tool kits that help make better decisions. One may not know the latest industry jargon but one certainly knows the importance of making a wise decision. Instead as with all technology products, one get informed by way of jargon.
We learnt the following on speaking to some customers :
- In many conversations on this topic, a repeating theme was the not so well lit lighting store. The customer walks-in to a store with lights mostly switched off. Perhaps there was an effort to save light but then there are sensors that can easily remedy the situation.
- One’s then faced with wall to wall fixtures. Do the excessive number of products without any visual segregation hinder or aid decision making or solution seeking? The book, Paradox of Choice comes to mind.
- Company websites that could certainly be improved upon in terms of information, standards and toolkits
And yet lighting is a very exciting space.
- While one wants to make one’s home bright with the right lights, one wants to be smart too. The right fixtures, technology that consumes less energy are the core basics of smart. What one may want to explore is the ability to link lights with sensors, link it to the smart phone and aim for even better energy management. Concepts like Hue, Nest, Homekit are in the minds of the customers. Would you get these experiences at your current store? What would need to change?
- Smart is good but solar and alternative energy is certainly on the agenda of a few progressive customers. Finding information, experts, products and proof of concepts are very hard to come by. At the moment, it’s tough to find information on solar power backups like UPS/ Inverters.
- Finally the partners, the people who help with ideas and implementation.
What should they know?
How can they be trained?
How can the smart lighting project be an exercise in co-creation with the customer?
What’s the digital toolkit for all this?
There is a lot more to do when lighting up someone’s place. The opportunity to make a difference starts now.