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A Journey through Lifestyle Merchandising

You might be asking yourself, what does she mean by lifestyle? Especially concerning lighting? These are excellent questions and for those of you in the dark, let me illuminate you.

North Coast Lighting has 7,592 items on display right now…  that’s right, 7,592 chandeliers, table lamps, wall sconces and bath bars. You would think with that many items on display our showroom would be overwhelming, but it’s not. We make it easy to shop using a technique called “lifestyle merchandising.”

Let me take you on a guided tour of North Coast Lighting, close your eyes and walk with me:

You enter the showroom and you have no particular item you want to buy, you’re “Just Looking.” The first thing you notice is the floor which is polished concrete. Polished concrete and concrete in general are growing in popularity and is very much on trend right now. You need to be careful to use a diffused light source on this material as it reflects individual bulbs on its’ surface. You also notice many raw or unfinished materials like strut, car decking, rope and even diamond plate. The use of raw materials is the biggest change in our industry in the last 20 years. (Typically lighting styles change once every 10 years, like iron to antique brass, to polished brass, to chrome, to bronze.) As the world is becoming more aware of energy and material use, the style has changed to “Re-purpose.” Gluttony is over, think clean and reuse.

Mesmerized you gaze at the entry display consisting of pendants and chandeliers made from cardboard, steel and bronze and hanging at varying levels. The backdrop is made of reclaimed ship boards. All of the items make sense in scale and balance. Lifestyle merchandising is all about weight and repeats. Think of it this way: you have a blank page and you have 10 stickers that need to go on the page. How do you arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way and draw attention to one particular item? Your brain sees and reads left to right, and your eye is drawn to the lightest object on a page (this is an advertising trick, if you check out your favorite magazine most ads have a background of white.) When we pull items together for a display, we set them against a backdrop that enhances their color and style. We want you to FEEL something when look at a display, that feeling or emotional buying decision is key and the closing point on decorative decisions. We sell more table lamps, floor lamps, art work and clocks because they are grouped together with the complimentary style of fixtures (lifestyle.) A typical consumer only buys a light fixture once every seven years and they buy art, and other home decor every 6 months. We want you to come back before the next seven years is up, so cross-merchandising or layering is used.

As we move through the showroom you’re surprised at each vignette, they all tell a different story in styles, backdrops and space occupied. The common thread is that between each vignette is an empty space, or a brief pause that gives your eye time to rest and then move on. This is an experience that cannot be recreated when shopping online. You can’t feel (emotionally) lifestyle merchandising, style, education, culture and passion online. Your experience is always evolving at North Coast Lighting. When we continue to the bath bars or vanities, you see they are arranged on the wall by style and finish and you comment on the abundance of options and wide variety of price points. Perceived value is everywhere. This reminds you that your master bath light is broken, and provides poor light even with those 72 watt bulbs. You decide that you definitely need to update your master bath light. I ask you the finish on your faucets and you tell me chrome. Then I ask if you have a vanity bar or individual sconces and you tell me a bar across the top. This helps explain the unsatisfactory lighting you currently have. Optimal bath lighting is placed on both sides of the mirror, as side lighting alleviates shadows and provides even illumination for putting on makeup and shaving. After a few more questions I can see that your style lends to mid-century modern and we select a fixture that you feel great about.

As we journey forward you enter the locks and hardware room and we select a 30” towel bar and towel ring to go with your new vanity lights. We head to the front of the showroom where we complete your transaction. As I walk you to your car I tell you about our Light Lab seminar that we host the first Wednesday of the month. This seminar is where we reveal all the secrets of the trade and discuss new lighting technology.

As you can see, shopping for lighting isn’t a chaotic and overwhelming process but a purposeful and planned experience. Using lifestyle merchandising, we can create familiarity and an emotional connection to your home decor, allowing you to select items that truly reflect your personal style.


Written By: Mistie Anderson, General Manager of North Coast Lighting. Mistie is an expert in lifestyle merchandising and has won several awards for her displays.