ALA Conference spreads the knowledge in Scottsdale
Jenny Heinzen York -- Home Accents Today, 10/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
The Annual American Lighting Association Conference took place last month in Scottsdale, Ariz., with more than 540 attendees, including manufacturers, lighting showrooms, sales reps and suppliers.
Over the course of the three-day event, seminars addressed such lighting-focused topics as energy-efficiency standards, lighting design, working with an aging population, LED and internet sales, as well as more general topics of sales training, effective employee and time management, and reaching the female consumer.
Donald Cooper, founder of The Donald Cooper Corporation and former apparel retailer, gave the kickoff keynote address, "Accelerate Your Business: How to Sell More, Manage Smarter, Grow Your Bottom Line ... and Have a Life."
"People are attracted to light - what you do matters to people," he said, encouraging the attendees to take pride of ownership in their businesses, even in difficult economic conditions.
"We've got a recession going on and we're not allowed to talk about it - that's like going to a starving person and not talking about food," he said. He said it's OK to talk about it, but be honest and upbeat. "When times are tough, your customers need you to be more upbeat, more helpful."
Cooper cited stats that 22% of the electricity in the United States goes toward lighting, equaling about $58 billion a year. And given that incandescent light bulbs lose about 90% of their electricity, that equals as much as $52 billion in waste, he said. So there's an especially big opportunity for energy-efficient products, as long as they are well-explained.
"Never has there been a higher level of interest in lighting, and there's never been more confusion about lighting - this is a huge opportunity."
He encouraged attendees to "brighten the corner where you are." Lighting, he said, uplifts, beautifies, helps us work and keeps people safe. "What you do matters. That you do it wonderfully matters," he said.
In The Second Keynote address of the conference, Marti Barletta of The Trendsight Group discussed "Illuminating the Ultimate Consumer: Women."
She said the lighting industry was missing an opportunity with female shoppers. "Women should be bringing you piles more cash," she said.
To make that happen, Barletta suggested that retailers market their businesses to women by building an email list, getting them into your store with special events, then converting them to being your business ambassador so that they will bring in their friends and family members.
Barletta specifically r ecommends targeting what she terms "Prime Time Women" - women aged 50-70, especially in light of the recent economic downturn.
"This group has wealth security," she said. "The people who have lost the fewest jobs, lost the least equity and lost the least money are in prime time."
Dispelling some of the myths about this generation of women, Barletta said:
■ "They are not retired." The number of employed women age 55 and up increased 52% from 2000 to 2010.
■ "They are not technophobic." Adults 40+ are significantly more active online than younger segments, with 72% accessing the internet from home, and 73% shopping online.
She argues that as the baby boom generation ages, not only will there be more of this powerful group of women to sell to, but they are more likely to be trading up, especially when they get the financial boost that comes with children finally leaving the home. And, this generation of women is likely to inherit from their parents, and eventually from their husbands (whom they are likely to outlive), so they will have more financial resources.
And, she offered another way to think of lighting: "I can't resist jewelry - and your products are exactly like that - jewelry for the home."
She suggested that understanding how women's brains operate will help the lighting industry move more product. "Women are more interested in people - less interested in product. Use people in your ads."
"Women are about finding the perfect answer ... men care about finding a solution that works," she said, adding that women tend to over think decisions. So, she suggests bundling a product (throwing in an extra sconce, for example), if the sale is made that day.
The Annual Conference is also an opportunity for the lighting industry to recognize achievers in the business. In addition to the presentation of the Lighting for Tomorrow Awards during the conference, the closing night banquet celebrated Pillars of the Industry and inducted a new member in to the Hall of Fame.
The 2012 Pillars of the Industry are retailer Ron Milam, owner of Lighting Emporium in Springdale, Ark.; sales rep Richard Alan, owner of Houston-based sales agency Richard Alan and Associates; and manufacturer Joey I. Sadofsky, president of Canadian Alico Industries.
The 2012 Hall of Fame inductee was Harry Kallick,chairman of Varaluz Lighting and managing partner of Solar Sign Light.
For more coverage of the 2012 ALA conference, see future editions of Home Accents Today.
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