Some lighting products/methods used by architects in practice include recessed lighting, surface mounted lighting, outdoor lighting, and smart lighting. Additional information for each of the lighting products/methods including its method of use, reasons for preference, examples, and pricing is listed below.
1. Recessed Lighting
- Recessed lighting is a method of lighting that integrates the housing of the light into a hollow opening of a surface such as a ceiling or a wall.
- Typical recessed lighting is made up of three key components: the power supply, the housing, and the trim. The trim is the only portion of the light that is visible and can have various shapes, finish, and styles. The power supply and housing are concealed and should be selected based on the required voltage and available space.
- Recessed lighting typically comes in 3 and 5-inch sizes, but can be custom-made into any dimension. The industry is trending towards 1-inch pinhole lights, as architects prefer light sources to be more discreet/ subtle. Most of today’s recessed lighting uses integrated LED lights, as they have a more desirable minimalistic appearance and lasts over 20 years.
- The product’s insulation contact (IC) rating should be considered when the lighting has to come into contact with the building’s thermal insulation. Other factors such as compatibility with dimmers, the warmth of color, wiring, and access to housing are should also be taken into account.
- Recessed lighting is preferred as it provides an integrated/ minimalistic look. It is touted to be versatile and suitable for a variety of situations. Today’s recessed lighting requires very little space and clearance for installation and can be made possible in many situations.
- Examples of the most common type of recessed lighting products include recessed ceiling/ downlights and plaster in LED lights.
- Prices of recessed lighting range between $36 to $4,440 on lightology.com.
2. Surface-Mounted Lighting
- Surface-mounted lighting is a method of lighting that is mounted on a surface with the housing mechanism visible and extruding from the mounting surface. It is typically used when there is insufficient space to integrate recessed housings, usually between the structural and dropdown ceiling.
- As most of the housing is visible, the shape and finish of the housing become key considerations when choosing such lighting. There is also a special consideration of carefully hiding exposed wiring to preserve aesthetics. Other purchase considerations include deciding on suitable light distribution angles (narrow or wide), use of reflectors, sensors and IP rating to prevent dust and water resistance.
- Contrary to recessed lighting, surface mounted lighting can be applied in situations where ceiling alternation is not possible. It is also used to offer a visual focal point that matches the furnished space where a minimalistic look is not preferred. The many shapes and sizes available allow for easier and more accurate targeting of light.
- Examples of the most common type of surface-mounted lighting products include suspended/ pendant mounted lights, ceiling-mounted lights, and track-mounted lights.
- Prices of recessed lighting range between $69 to $619 on schoolhouse.com.
3. Outdoor Lighting
- Outdoor/ exterior lighting is typically used by landscape architects. When applying outdoor lighting, architects are advised to consider the primary goal such as identifying key features, adding dramatic effect, or to illuminate a clear pathway for walking.
- As structural elements are usually limited in the outdoors, architects have to understand the available methods of fixtures to apply outdoor lighting. Placements of transformer, pipes, and wires should also be planned out before. Features such as motion sensors and photo sensors may be useful in certain scenarios. Maintenance is also an important factor as outdoor lighting can be exposed to wind, rain, and moisture.
- Architects may apply outdoor/ exterior lighting to ward off intruders and enhance visibility for walking or performing specific tasks safely. Outdoor lighting also can highlight unique landscapes and architectural details to improve aesthetics.
- Examples of the most common type of outdoor/ exterior lighting products include path lights, post lights, and landscape lights.
- Fixtures of outdoor lighting can range from $35 for an uplight to over $150 for a path light.
4. Smart Lighting
- Smart lighting can provide multiple modes of illumination based on changing conditions such as user inputs. Smart lighting systems are usually managed by a home automation system to coordinate the interactions between separate lighting components for a cohesive effect.
- Applying smart lighting can be as simple as swapping out existing light bulbs. Besides general factors that apply to lighting, special consideration should be given to the desired functionality and feature set as there are plenty of choices available in the market.
- Smart lighting is preferred as they can act similarly to sunsets and sunrises to minimize interruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Lighting with integrated motion sensors can enhance home security by detecting and notifying intrusions.
- Smart lighting can also enhance immersion in entertainment by syncing with the sound or visual effects of songs and displays. Some apply smart lighting to conserve energy.
- Smart lighting products are available in different forms including smart bulbs, smart switches, and smart plugs.
- Smart lighting products from the popular Phillips Hue series can range between $19.99 to $312 on Amazon.
We’ve qualified lighting products/methods as being used by architects in practice by selecting products/methods that are featured in articles/ case studies targeted at architects.
Marketing Strategies for Architects
Architects are likely to respond well to personalized marketing efforts, responsive and well-versed sales team, and to intuitive and informative websites that do not place restrictions on the information they need. Generalized marketing strategies are usually not sufficient, as they are a diverse group, with different shopping behaviors. Most articles and studies about the group focus on building close and individual relationships with the professionals and firms, as opposed to mass marketing.
Strategy #1: Market Segmentation
- Marketing to architects can be a challenge, as they are looking for innovative ideas and products, yet require tried-and-tested products and certified standards. Research suggests that one typical mistake companies make when marketing products to the group is to treat architects and constructors the same way, reducing the effectiveness of the message.
- Generalized sales pitches are not efficient for those trying to reach these professionals, as they are not likely to identify the different buying behaviors of this diverse group. As one architect stated, “Don’t send me someone who just came from selling to the big box stores that same day. They don’t know anything about my process.”
- Even within the architecture community, careful market segmentation is required. How an architect responds to a new product or process varies according to their style, which means one-size does fit all. A 2016 study conducted by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) divided architects into three groups: conservatives, dynamists, and risk-takers. Each group has a specific demographic, different attitude towards new products and brands, and different shopping processes.
- Conservatives account for 41% of the community. They are usually over 55 years old, are more likely to take an engineering approach, and less likely to adopt new products and ideas, as they rely heavily on their experience with products. Their firms are also less likely to specify products that are new to the market and are less focused on sustainable design or to be LEED accredited.
- Dynamists represent 33% of all architects. They encourage new ideas but still rely on previous experiences. They are the ones most likely to rely on relationships with manufacturers when making decisions. A dynamist architect is more likely to be a younger male and to work at a firm with an outspoken culture.
- Risk-takers account for the remaining 26%. They are very open to adopting new methods and actively encourage new ideas. They are more likely to be women, of mixed ages, who work for multidisciplinary firms. These professionals are more prone to environmental work.
- The community is also increasingly diverse, and the changing demographics should not be ignored. The 2019 AIA Firm Survey showed that women and minorities are more present in the market now than they were in the past. It predicts that by 2025, women will account for 41% of all architecture staff at firms, while 29% will be minorities.
- Shaping the marketing efforts to reach specific firms is a way to ensure the message is engaging. Some suggest that companies should adopt a specialist mentality when marketing to architects, meaning that instead of a broad concept, they should shape their message to fit a particular architect (or group).
- Conservatives are resistant to new products and are process-driven; therefore, they usually go to the same supplier to save time and effort. They are more likely to work for risk-averse firms and are inclined to use ideas that they know will be successful. They would probably be best targeted for increasing the market share of existing products or services than introducing new ideas, as they tend to avoid new entrances until there is a moderate level of use in the market. Companies aiming this group should focus on product descriptions and specifications.
- Dynamists are likely to work in firms with an outspoken culture; therefore, building close relationships with the architects may be a good way to ensure adoption. Companies aiming to reach this group should provide access to building information modeling (BMI) objects for products, given they are the group most likely to use BMI in their work. They are more satisfied with product manufacturers than other groups, which could mean they are more open to their advice.
- Risk-takers are the most open group to new products and methods of design and are continually looking for new ideas. They often independently research information on products and are the ones most likely to be committed to sustainable design and to seek environmentally conscious products. Companies should highlight environmental product ratings to supplement product information when marketing to this group, as well as present accurate product information and innovations the product brings.
- It is also essential to address the different needs for each stage of the architect’s process. For instance, during the design stage, architects are usually looking for technical descriptions, specifications, BIM objects, media, case studies, trends, and pricing. During the Specification stage, they are more likely to seek descriptions and specifications and warranty information. During the Review & Approval stage, besides descriptions, specifications, and warranty, installation instructions are also valued.
Strategy #2: Knowledgeable and Responsive Representatives
- Architects consider partnerships with manufacturers an essential part of their career and their decision-making process. However, manufacturers often misunderstand their roles and are unable to form a strong relationship with the professionals. The most commonly mentioned barriers architects encounter when interacting with suppliers include uneducated representatives, lack of responsiveness, and misdirected marketing efforts.
- What architects expect from representatives (reps) changed over time, and many companies failed to adapt. Architects are looking for reps that have a consultative skillset, and that can work as trusted advisors for selecting and specifying their own products. They want someone who understands the entire product category, and that is able to provide impartial, technical advice, beyond just products and systems.
- Architects are willing to take advice from representatives when they are perceived as trustworthy, transparent, and knowledgeable. They have no desire to interact with a sales or marketing team unless the team can provide technical information about the project. They want real applications and examples.
- They want the company to offer the details along the with an overview of the bigger picture (e.g, how the product will fit the entire building). As one architect describes, “We like to know how systems go together. This gives us additional ideas about the structure overall.”
- Some architects noted that communication with companies is a pain point, as most companies do not understand the projects they take on or their preferences. A common complaint is the lack of timely responses.
- One marketing firm interviewed architects during the AIA 2019 and discovered that most companies are not equipped to provide the necessary information. Professionals stated that it is challenging to promptly find answers to technical questions. Some noted that even large firms only have one or two representatives who knew anything about building practices.
- To instill trust, the sales team needs to understand the architect’s process deeply, talk confidently in their language, and be able to give real advice that goes beyond the brochure. Case studies can be a great way to convey all the information architects are seeking.
- When pitching a product to these professionals, a company must go beyond benefits and present details about how the product works and how it would interact with the entire building: “Don’t just tell me all the wonderful benefits of your product. Make it easy to compare your products to others. And make it relevant to one of my past or current projects.”
- Given that most architectural firms are small (75%), they do not have resources or time to waste, which is why their relationship with companies is valuable and an important part of their consumer journey. A company’s representative must be more than just a salesperson, he or she needs to become a trusted advisor and help the professionals solve broader challenges than just product selection and specification.
- Another marketing strategy is education since architects are required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their license. For instance, during the AIA 2019, booths that offered educational opportunities were more likely to find an audience than those only marketing products. Since architects often incorporate education into their buying behavior, companies offering these opportunities tend to stand out.
- They often use these classes to learn about product trends, opening an opportunity for manufacturers to create educational programmings, such as seminars, webinars, and sessions that qualify as credit. Nevertheless, the programming should focus on education, not the products, as architects view marketing and direct selling during education efforts poorly.
Strategy #3: Informative and Dynamic Websites
- The most frequent way architects engage with manufacturers is through their websites (89%). Nonetheless, most companies fail to construct a website that provides these professionals effortless guidance when making decisions.
- Companies do not design their websites from the architect’s perspective; instead, they often build it with proprietary specs, logins, and obstacles that protect the product to the detriment of the professional’s experience. When architects are unable to find the information they need in a few clicks, they are likely to move to another supplier.
- Websites should not require a sign-up for detailed product specification information. It should be concise and straightforward to navigate, with BMI and objects. Marketing efforts should not be excessive, opting instead for informative pieces and thought leadership articles.
- According to Division 8 Marketing, a marketing firm dedicated to the construction industry, architects look for the following resources from a brand’s website: BIM objects, CAD drawings, case studies, continuing education, environmental product declarations, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), performance data, product information, project images, specifications, technical support, warranty information, and white papers. These resources should be easy to access and intuitive.