Survey: LED lighting future still has room to glow

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
 Survey: LED lighting future still has room to glow

The lighting landscape continues to shift toward LED lighting as prices fall and more options come to the marketplace.

However, consumers still haven't fully embraced LEDs, put off by new technology and plethora of options in terms of color temperature, brightness and other choices that simply weren't available in the good old days of incandescent bulbs.

A recent survey commissioned by OSRAM SYLVANIA found that even in the changing landscape following the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, consumer perception of LEDs still needs clarifying, due to a lack of awareness and misconceptions.

Here are some of the findings:

  • More than half of Americans surveyed only associate LED lighting with holiday lights.
  • While we see brightness, color, and usage time surface as light bulb pain points in some rooms, for the most part, Americans aren’t researching how to fix this before heading to the store.
  • More than 2 in 5 Americans surveyed (41%) report that their household does not utilize LED light bulbs in the living room, kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom.
  • Nearly all of Americans surveyed (93%) who use LED light bulbs in their home are most satisfied with the total amount of time the bulb will last.

In an exclusive interview with, Pam Price, retail marketing manager, OSRAM SYLVANIA and Robert Harrison, region head LED Lamps- Americas, OSRAM SYLVANIA, discussed the LED marketplace and consumer adoption.

How has the market changed since the phase out of the most popular incandescent bulb sizes?

PP: One of things we were particularly interested in was trying to find out whether people were planning on hoarding on incandescent bulbs prior to the ban, or if they were going to switch over to more energy efficient products. In the beginning everyone says, of course we're going to switch over to more energy efficient lighting.

Then we asked questions about types of products they will purchase instead of incandescent, they talked about halogen, CFLs and LEDs. People were saying they were using LED in their home and we knew the probably weren't really using LEDS as we think of them for general lighting purposes.

Early survey results had more to do with holiday lighting.

Fast forward to 2014 when incandescents are actually exiting the market and the LED general-purpose bulbs are in the market.

We were not really surprised by the results as to what are some of the drivers behind the replacement bulbs.

We were surprised people aren’t doing a lot of research ahead of time. Let's face it, people are going to make a purchase based on the fact they need to replace something isn't working any more.

How has the market shift as LEDs have become more common?

RH: As the LEDs are getting more shelf presence, not only in the big home centers, but also in groceries stores and convenience stores, they're hitting some key price points at at the $5 to $10 range to type. At that level consumer are certainly more interested in making purchase.

They are also becoming a lot more familiar. In the beginning, some of the LED lamps that are general purpose or for directional lighting, looked like an alien bulb, as one shopper said in a store.

Early on the technology wasn't quite ready for prime time, as it's becoming much more looking and feeling and performing like the product they're replacing, it's gaining acceptance.

What do consumers need to know to choose the right LED light for their homes?

PP: With incandescents, consumers basically had two choices, soft white and clear.

It started to get confusing for consumers when we started introduced color temperature with CFLs. Color temperature is one of those things we communicate on the package, and, depending on which retailer you’re in, we have in-store signage and messaging. Generally, we try to put pictures on the signs so people can see the difference.

We basically want them to understand the difference between the warmer color temperature and the cooler color temperatures. The last thing we want to have is for them to take a light home and they say my house looks terrible.

Where are LEDS growing in the marketplace?

RH: LEDs are being adopted in new construction a little faster on the commercial side than the residential side.

We're seeing fixtures using LED bulbs, and also seeing fixtures built from scratch as LED fixtures without any replaceable components. The assumption is the product will last so long the product will last so long you'll replace the fixture before the bulb would wear out.

Right now market trends are driving penetration. The price erosion on the shelf has been massive and certainly in areas where there are utility rebates, it's even faster. The performance of the LED portfolio is increasing rapidly, where we're introducing new updated products basically every single year.

What are some of the barriers still left for adopting LEDs?

RH: One of the benefits of LED is that you have so many choices, but it takes a lot of communications to customers because they have have so many choices they never had before. It's typically not a purchase consumers are used to spending a lot of time and effort figuring out.

Topics: Energy Star, Going Green, Lighting

Companies: Sylvania

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

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