With a name derived from the Latin word for light, and a legacy with integrators that extends well before current category trends, the name Lutron, both literally and figuratively, is synonymous with lighting. Thankfully for Lutron, that legacy hasn’t led to complacency as the company remains extremely proactive and engaged with the integrator channel. Most recently, the company conducted a study exploring how consumers value lighting in the home, in addition to wrapping up its annual Lutron Excellence awards at CEDIA Expo 2023.
Being so particularly tapped into this category, Ben Bard, Vice President of Lutron, sat down with CE pro to discuss how Lutron has been handling the surge in popularity from integrators, the trends it’s been noticing as lighting becomes more widely adopted, and where integrators can look to continue expanding their lighting business.
CE Pro: Has the increased presence by competitors in the lighting and automated shades categories pushed Lutron’s own R&D?
Bard: Lutron’s first company principle is to ‘take care of the customer.’ And as a customer-centric company, Lutron’s research and development roadmaps are based on our customers’ wants, needs, and their product feedback. Competition and the smart home trend have helped increase awareness of the benefits, which is good for the industry.
CE Pro: Where does Lutron see key trends in these areas?
Bard: More than ever, we’re seeing integrators and specifiers teaming up on projects to simplify and elevate the home experience, including lighting designers, interior designers, architects, or a combination of the three. Lutron’s broad offering of control finishes, shade fabrics, and intelligent fixtures makes it easy for specifiers to enhance their designs and satisfy their mutual clients. In fact, one of the most popular categories in the Lutron Excellence Awards competition this year is the ‘Best Collaboration with a Lighting Designer, Interior Designer, or Architect’ category.
If an integrator is not already working with an interior designer, now is the time to do so. Lutron’s new suite of marketing tools, including the new Lutron Experience App, will help start these conversations and make it easier than ever to work with specifiers and help them understand the possibilities.
CE Pro: Lighting fixtures are still a very new and potentially intimidating category for dealers. How is Lutron and Ketra helping to guide them?
Bard: Lutron has a carefully curated group of Ketra dealers who have gone through rigorous training, have dedicated Ketra and Lutron experts on staff, and have built a world-class showroom that immerses customers in the Ketra experience. In addition, some of the most successful integrators have hired lighting designers to assist with system design.
Earlier this year, Lutron announced a quick-ship Ketra downlight option that can be used on any project. Lead times on other Ketra products have also returned to normal. Additionally, Lutron has made large investments in an ecosystem of connected tools called Lutron Connect to enable easy setup, troubleshooting, monitoring, and sharing to execute and collaborate on lighting projects.
CE Pro: How are Lutron’s latest products releases being received by dealers?
Bard: Lutron continues to see significant growth in the luxury residential category, particularly around new products like Palladiom wire-free shades, which has been the most significant new shade product Lutron has introduced. Ketra Light Bar Slim has been a hit thanks to the growing popularity of undercabinet, cove, and bookshelf lighting.
CE Pro: With lighting and shades discussions, where are dealers leaving money on the table?
Bard: Although it’s one of Lutron’s fastest-growing categories, automated shades are still one of the most underpenetrated categories in the industry. I cannot stress enough the growth opportunity available to integrators with automated shades. In fact, in 2022 in Ashland, Virginia, Lutron broke ground on what will be the world’s largest automated shade manufacturing facility in the world. If integrators are not in the shades business currently, it’s time to double down and add shades to every project. With new innovations like battery-powered Roman shades, and the Palladiom wire free shades, integrators can offer their customers endless options that will complement any home.
CE Pro: Following CEDIA Expo, what priorities or initiatives can integrators expect from Lutron heading into 2024?
Bard: Lutron will continue to support integrators by helping them build their businesses in the shading and lighting categories. The Intelligent lighting category is newer, and there is plenty of growth for everyone. To get started, integrators should establish a fundamental baseline to start their lighting business, like establishing collaborative relationships with the design community to create demand and enhance the quality of experiences for homeowners.
Bottom line, Lutron is looking forward to working with our existing dealers in 2024, growing our dealer base, and supporting the industry with new innovations. There has never been a better time to be a Lutron dealer.
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