The week that was 11th- 15th September 2017
Singapore, weekend 16-17th September 2017
Back from a highly exciting time in Shanghai last week, I had the time to catch up on some back-log work (at least that was what I hoped for) but as always expect the unexpected…half way the week my laptop (my life!) started to play up with a graphics card going haywire creating the strangest sceneries on my display with a cursor jumping all over the screen, making work a near impossibility. Not deterred I turned the setback into a positive action by going out to buy myself a new laptop. It was about time anyhow as I have been upgrading/ renewing my laptop every two years or thereabouts, so this was the perfect excuse 😊. I came home with the latest HP Spectre X360, a little beauty, small, light, compact but packing an unbelievable power and memory and to top it off a touch screen and pen for my beloved sketching needs!
But obviously it came with the pain of having to transfer and re-install everything. Not my favourite pass-time and of course there were some hick-ups that required some reformatting and recovery…but it is all working now and I am enjoying it writing this blog! Next the Samsung Note 8! Out this weekend in Singapore so I may get out later and try get my hand on one. I was about to upgrade my Note 5 to the Note 7 when the battery issues happened, so I have been holding back all this time…by all accounts this also is a beauty and a great tool for designers with its handy pen sketching options 😊
Otherwise nothing spectacular happened during the week other that we had several supplier updates regarding products. Suppliers are a special breed of people, each with their own way of promoting their latest products and ways of getting you to specify their products. Let’s have a look at three distinctive supplier tactics which I encountered this week:
1- The professional one to one product sell
This is the traditional approach, based on a knowledgeable sales person, one who knows his products inside out, understands what we as lighting designers are looking for and does not bullshit around. Most of all, he is capable of highlighting the key features of his products that stand out and how these would make a difference in our projects. Not fishing for projects, just let his expertise, knowledge and product quality do the talking. This is the type I love to see in our office. They are educational, they bring real value to our product knowledge and therefore the intelligence value that we bring to our projects and clients. When they leave our office you feel excited about the new opportunity for your projects. There is no need to pitch for projects because their presentation and product introduction already have us on edge and looking for opportunities to apply them.
This week we had the visit of Orluna to update us on the latest products. I came away with 3 very interesting general product features which I would like to share as I believe these are important added value features worth educating our clients about.
The first is that their products are now being designed with recycled materials and are also designed to be recycled. Why is that important? Because it is time to switch from the current waste economy to a circular economy (Light as a Service!) and having manufacturers taking the lead and showing the way is commendable. To reinforce the message Orluna is offering a residue value to their products. In other words, a client who purchased their products would still be able to “trade in” the products at the end of use. This could be an interesting value feature in the specification process!!
The second is that they guarantee their lifespan as a result of tightly managing the LED junction temperature (JT). By ensuring that all their products have a junction temperature of <65 degrees, they can assure longevity with case studies showing some of their products having only 10% lumen depreciation after no less than 70,000 hours! I understand that common market practice is a JT of <85 degrees. Again, perhaps a consideration to actually highlight the JT as a requirement in the specifications as this is a determining factor in assuring the product lifespan!
Last but not least they also offer a dimming guarantee. I mentioned this in one of my previous blogs. Dimming quality is one of the key challenges we face in practically every project, so having a product specification supported with a guaranteed 0-100% soft dimming is a great peace of mind, not only for the client but also for us!
2- The event based product introduction
In the later part of the week we attended a product launch, this time from FLOS, who introduced us in a well arranged setting their latest outdoor lighting range. To entice a good attendance and stimulate networking, the event was held at one of the beachside restaurants in Sentosa, away of the hustle and bustle of the city. A good idea anyhow as the city is in a partial lock down at the moment for this weekend’s F1 street race.
This kind of product introductions are not so much about technical discussions or “boring” presentations, it’s the relaxed setting, get to know the products at your own pace, connect with the people behind the products. These events are often an exercise in branding and reinforcing corporate identity and the companies standing in the market as a leader of innovative products. This in turns then strengthens the brand loyalty.
The award-winning Michelin rated Tanjung Beach restaurant with its outdoor space facing the beach, the sea and the sunset was a perfect setting for some Paella, a glass of Sangria (or other 😊) and chatting with colleagues in the industry while inspecting the products on their merits in the process. These events re-enforce the bonding with your local supplier and while you may not get the immediate product specifics, you create a direct bonding and know you can pick up the phone when the need arises. We need the people’s support as much as the products themselves!
3- The personal approach
Finally, the “personal” approach, which generally happens in a one to one setting in a bar, restaurant, nightclub or golf course or the like and has but one goal is to get you committed to use their products. The “mates” deal, I help you, you help me approach. These approaches can be helpful but are generally very sensitive as there is a fine line between “friendship” and professionalism to be walked. I had one of these this week as well where one of the suppliers I had not met for a long time asked me out for drinks “wanting to catch up”. This generally means wanting to find out what projects you are working on and see if with some wining and dining (or more…) you can be seduced to promote/ specify their products. Sometimes these are just really about friendship and just catching up. After all it is a small world and keeping friendly relationships is important. Over the years you learn to know who is really trying to create a friendship and who is pretending, with the sole aim to get business from you…when you are prepared and clear about it you can use these “mate”- meetings to get some valuable market intelligence 😊. For those who are your real friends there are never any issues as they adhere to professional ethics by treating you with trust, respect and integrity!
Have a great weekend!