Christmas music. Red and green. Outdoor holiday light displays. You may not want to believe it, but it’s almost that time of year again. And while your customers may not be thinking about it yet, this year’s trends should be on your radar.
Most companies in the holiday lighting industry only have two months to get all of their customers’ work done, which means planning ahead is important. It’s also important if you’re thinking about getting into the industry.
“Obviously the economy is booming right now,” says Mike Marlow, vice president of Holiday Bright Lights in Chicago. “Whoever’s getting into this business is going to grab a good market share this year.”
Marlow says he’s seen an increase in commercial properties requesting holiday lighting.
“More cities are asking for more lights on the properties now,” he says. “More businesses are seeing they can get more attention to the building and more community spirit … It’s not just about homeowners anymore.”
He says companies that focus on the niche market of commercial properties will see a rise in decorating profit.
“Let’s say a typical lawn and landscape company might have 300 (customers),” he says. “Out of those 300, there might only be 25 to 50 of those accounts that are doing holiday lighting. I bet you there are only four or five (landscapers) really going profitably after commercial accounts.”
This winter, and in the next five to 10 years, Marlow says to expect more RGB lights and fewer static lights. These are red-green-blue changing lights.
“You can put something on a house or even in a tree and a professional guy can set up special colors and have it go through different functions and that can be programmable,” he says. It’s set up over Wi-Fi so if a customer calls, the company can change the colors to what they want.
Taylor Olberding, operations manager for Heroes Lawn and Landscape in Omaha, Nebraska, says RGB “pretty much solves all the problems of color” when it comes to holiday lighting.
When it comes to colors, Olberding says his client base is split 50/50 with warm white colors who have the same decorations every year. Returning clients also often want more than the previous year.
As the displays grow, they get more creative he says. Anything that can include nighttime and daytime appeal, is a plus.
“Garlands and bows you see during the day, so adding stuff to the trees that makes a statement and then is lit up at night,” he says, “you see it around the clock.”
LED lights are also continuing an upward trend, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. “Out of 120 residential properties, maybe six to 10 of them are incandescent,” Olberding says. Marlow guesses about 90 to 95 percent of displays are now LED.
He’s also seen a lot of companies going with commercial grade field bulbs or C9 bulbs for long life. “Those are big key elements,” Marlow says. “You have to have the right product to make it last many, many years. That’s how you become more profitable each year.”
Marlow also says connectivity is a reason why more people are going with LED over incandescent.“I can connect 40 LED strands, but I can only connect five incandescent,” he says. “That’s more cords on the job.”
Now is the time to start stocking up on these new items because decorating season will be here before you know it, and Marlow is expecting it to be a big year.
“I talked to a guy in Nashville who said he thinks Christmas is going to be double (in 2017) and it was insane last year,” he says, adding that the man went to different suppliers to stock up on landscaping materials and they were completely out of product. “The last time this happened was before the economy dropped in 2008.”