This past week I attended and presented at the Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibition 2019, staged by the excellent Messe Frankfurt Hong Kong team. My presentation was titled “From Architectural Lighting to Architectural Media“, in which I covered the transition to embedded lighting and the subsequent creative potential when that embedded lighting is driven by live data streams and becomes ambient communications.
I previously attended and presented at GILE 2017, which I covered in an extensive blog post here.
The Guangzhou lighting exhibition is a real eye-opener for me, coming from the upper echelons of the Western lighting specification market. The Chinese lighting suppliers are incredibly driven to win. The intensity of the show exhibitors to reach you and engage with you is simply unparalleled by any of the Western lighting shows. Yes, most of the product lines are commodity product categories or unfortunately, clones of innovative Western designs, but still, there is large amount of innovation going on here in the minutia of small product details and LED technology development.
It is readily apparent that there needs to be serious industry consolidation in the Chinese lighting sector. Even the conference theme was “escape the red ocean“, like the popular business book. The Chinese lighting industry needs to significantly up its investment in R+D. It certainly has the capabilities to out-innovate the West, if only its companies embraced a truly future-focused vision.
Many of the upper-end manufacturers have already embraced Western-style branding and product marketing and are indistinguishable from similar Western manufacturers: The product looks great, quality is good, and the sales and marketing are on-par. Chinese manufacturers that really embrace long-term quality and customer service/relationship building will be truly globally competitive in the next few years.