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LED filament bulbs awaiting their brand Messiah

In ‘Unplugged Courtyard’ dining restaurant they entice us as stars, in ‘Sevilla’ they bring out the vintage charm, and in ‘Too Indian’ the central chandelier is one of their best avatars. LED filament bulbs are enhancing the aesthetic appeal of restaurants, salons and other retail spaces. These add glamour to interiors of almost all visually appealing restaurants.

The irony, however, is that, there is no major brand offering these bulbs in the market. “There is immense scope of building a brand in the segment. The market size of LED filament bulbs will be about 600 million units by 2018, according to Epistar market analysis report. The current trend towards usage of energy-efficient alternatives has led to the increase in demand for these famous exposed-filament Edison bulbs, mainly in retail spaces because of their aesthetic appeal,” explains Amarendra Srivastava, business analyst and coach.

“The expected profit margins promise a high return on investment (ROI). Currently, if one goes by the sourcing and marketing model of brand building, average cost of sourcing is about Rs. 7000 for 100 LED filament bulbs. Cost varies with design. One may add about 30 per cent other expenses to the same. On an average, an LED filament bulb costs about ` 300 in the Indian market. So the scope is huge,” Srivastava adds.

Does the brand matter?

“Locally available bulbs are often faulty, and need replacement almost every month. We don’t have a choice currently. If I had one, I would love to invest in a good homegrown brand for the same,” shared Varun Puri, owner, Too Indian and Imly restaurants.
Ankur Jain, consultant architect, Gold’s Gym, added, “Fitness is one of the most competitive segments of the lifestyle industry. It is extremely important for us to offer high-end beautiful ambiance to our consumers. LED filament bulbs with their warm and victorian looks have become a mandate for all our centres. I am willing to spend extra 25-30 per cent than what I currently do on local bulbs if a good brand for LED filament bulbs is available.”

Nitin Kapoor, owner of Unplugged Courtyard, shared, “We as consumers suffer the most due to absence of a good brand in the segment. Currently, bulbs are imported from China and sold by local vendors.”

At the same time, interior designers are customising the LED lighting design to beautify homes, bars, restaurants, stores and hotels. Silky Arora, an interior designer, shared, “We are currently working on a few residential designs, where customers have specially demanded a certain style of LED bulbs for their bar and garden decor.”

The business perspective

Companies like Havells and Philips do offer LED filament bulbs in the market, but the options are limited. In comparison, local suppliers offer much wider choice in design and power output. It is believed that low thermal capacity limits the bigger brands’ interest in LED filament bulbs.

However, with improvements in technology and realisation of LED filament bulbs’ benefits like 360-degree light emission and design flexibility, well-established brands have started to consider these as a separate business segment.

Devashish Ganguli, assistant general manager, Havells, shared, “Havells is the only company in India that manufactures LED filament lamps locally at their Neemrana plant. One needs to comply with certain BIS standards to manufacture LEDs in India, and the laws are bound to become more stringent in the coming years. Currently, LED filament bulbs are used primarily in the hospitality industry. Due to limited demand, their prices are high. Earlier, even an LED bulb used to cost ` 300, but as the demand and supply gap reduced, the cost came down to ` 50. LED filament bulb’s cost will also come down as their demand increases.”

Build your brand strategy now

With the craze for LED filament bulbs growing all over the world, these are here to stay. The yellow light is soon expected to spill over the home decor segment. Covered in aesthetics and fuelled by engineering, LED filament bulbs are the first choice of the next generation. So now is the best time to seize the opportunity and build a great brand!

—Nidhi Arora, executive editor, EFY

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