When you talk to clients about lighting, chances are they haven’t really considered any additional benefits that they might get from it.

Lighting is often taken for granted by the people who need it, but for businesses, it can actually play a crucial role in their results.

That’s what we’re talking about here when we say “smart” lighting. In this context, we mean lighting that is designed to help businesses achieve their goals. This might involve “smart lighting,” whereby there is an automated or artificial intelligence component, but overall, our theme is around what a business can get from lighting that is well-planned.

There have been studies that investigate how lighting can influence people, for example, which is usually the bottom line for businesses. “Smart” for some businesses may also encompass how they can be more efficient or save money. Here’s what we found out:

Free download: How circadian lighting works

Lighting in retail stores can impact buying habits

It is well-known that the atmosphere retailers provide can impact customer buying behaviours, and lighting is just one of those atmospheric factors. 

Studies show that lighting has a huge influence over our moods. This is probably little surprise if you’ve ever experienced SAD (seasonal affective disorder) when the weather results in you getting less natural light. During these times, artificial light can be just as influential. 

If you install lighting for retail clients or restaurants, here’s something you should know:

“…we feel less connected to others in the dark. So we assign less weight to what others think and more weight to what we authentically desire.” In this instance, this means we’re more likely to be indulgent in lower levels of lighting.

Other findings from the same study indicate that diners in restaurants may underestimate portion sizes in dimmer lighting. However they may also perceive spicy foods as being less enjoyable. 

Shoppers may take a more leisurely pace when lighting is dim or dark, while bright lighting inspires people to make more practical purchase decisions. Under very bright lights, emotions can be heightened and people may be more likely to make impulse buys. You’ll see this in action in stores where a brightly-lit checkout queue area is lined with displays of the types of products that people grab on impulse.

Shopper perceptions are fueled by lighting too. Dimmer lighting can give an impression of luxury and exclusivity, while brighter lighting can say low prices or “bargain.” Interestingly, brighter light is also associated with things that are natural or healthy – a good pointer for any shops specialising in health!

Retailers can take advantage of the effects of different types of lighting by giving themselves the option to change their ambient lighting at different times of day. For example, they could have dimmers installed giving them greater control over brightness.

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Lighting can affect employee productivity

Experiments have been conducted involving lighting and employee productivity for at least a century, including the infamous Hawthorne studies. Workers with less light exposure tended to be less productive.

This makes sense when you view it in the context of the human circadian rhythm. We have natural cycles of alertness or sleepiness that our bodies follow each day. Lighting can interfere with those rhythms. For example, if your workplace has dim lighting and it is 10am, you can find yourself feeling groggy at a time of day when you’d usually be alert.

Recent research has examined “circadian lighting,” a concept where lighting systems are designed to align with the natural circadian rhythm. These include adjusting the position, angle and colour of lights to mimic what the sun does naturally.

In one study, workers who were exposed to circadian lighting at work showed a 12% increase in productivity. Tunable LED lighting can mimic the solar sequence, making people more comfortable and having benefits for their wellness, impacting overall productivity.  

The light our eyes sense transmits signals to the brain which will secrete either serotonin during the day (a natural antidepressant) or melatonin at night (a hormone that promotes sleep). We’re learning more about the important role that light plays in overall wellness – this could be useful information for helping your clients to make lighting decisions.

Lighting choices can be efficient

Intelligent or programmable lighting can help to boost the operational efficiency of businesses. For example, lighting can be controlled and monitored from a mobile phone or laptop, even if the person is hundreds of miles away. There can be huge energy savings gained and this can help businesses that have sustainability goals.

If we look specifically at LED lighting, there are a number of benefits that make it a smart choice:

  • LED is energy efficient and reduces costs. In addition, maintenance costs are reduced as there is less need to replace bulbs.
  • Related to our last section, LED lighting creates a better work environment. The lighting is less-tiring on the eyes as it doesn’t glare like traditional forms of lighting, reducing headaches and eye strain. Workplaces also won’t have problems with shattering that can be associated with the old fluorescent tubes.
  • LED lights can last for tens of thousands of hours, far exceeding other types of lights.
  • LED lights provide better rendering and focus. This can make the business look more attractive for employees and clients.

Lighting can create a good impression

Picture walking into a business. What impression do you get if there is a harsh glare from an overhead fluorescents or if lighting is mostly coming from a desk lamp? It’s fair to say that how a business uses lighting tells a story, so it’s important that the business is saying what it really wants clients to hear!

Lighting that is artfully chosen can create an impression of attention to detail and smart choices. Decorative lighting isn’t just about aesthetics – those down lights or landscape lights can create a sense of status and authority with the clients of the business.

Lighting can of course also be about safety and showing clients that the business is open. Lighting around entrances or leading up to entrances helps to enhance safety and openness, whereas if it is dimly lit, people often can’t tell from the street whether the business is open or not.

This is something to talk about with your clients; what is the story that their lighting is communicating?

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Download here: Circadian lighting and how it works

Final thoughts

Lighting is a factor that can really enhance a business if it is well thought-out. Smart lighting choices might include “smart lighting,” as well as lighting features that confer other benefits.

Choice of lighting can either help or hinder productivity. It can create the right mood and it can borrow from studies on human behaviour to help drive the actions the business would like customers to take.

The more we learn about lighting, the more ideas there are to work with. Look for more businesses to be incorporating things like circadian lighting in the future.