Optoelectronics

Innovative LED technology for retail sector

24th March 2020
Alex Lynn

n Germany, a supermarket chain owner is experimenting with new LED technologies that move beyond straightforward product illumination. An EDEKA store installed lights using ground-breaking Vitasolis LEDs from NICHIA. Vitasolis offers a colour spectrum that recreates the effect of natural light on people.

Keen to find out what impact these LEDs can have on shopper behaviour and, potentially, what products they buy, the store owner has teamed up with Dr Enrique Strelow, Head of Shopper Communication at Ferrero, to conduct a scientific trial.

With LED technology continuing to advance, retailers have begun to look beyond established benefits such as energy efficiency, and to consider what more can be achieved with light. For instance, the colour range and controllability of LEDs means they are increasingly being deployed to heighten both visual and emotional appeal. And now, thanks to step-changes in science, retailers can add a third dimension to the impact of light: the biological effect.

NICHIA’s new Vitasolis LED technology stimulates the body and its circadian rhythm in the same way as natural light. It is well documented that lighting has an influence on activity levels throughout the day, including waking up in the morning, being active during working hours, and sleeping well at night. Although Vitasolis provides a very natural white colour, part of its spectrum contains a larger amount of energy in the cyan region, which is known to help control human circadian rhythms.

Many artificial white light sources found in shops do not contain sufficient cyan to stimulate the body. In contrast, the enhanced cyan element present within the spectrum of Vitasolis opens the door to human-centric lighting solutions that promote wellbeing and alertness, reduce tiredness and stress, and elevate mental performance. Vitasolis, with its wide colour spectrum, also improves the response of the eyes to light, reducing strain.

The trial at an Edeka store observes how Vitasolis influences the mood of customers in store. Can it make shoppers more relaxed, more positive or more energetic, for example? Maybe it can prompt them to make a purchase as they approach fresh produce counters; encourage them to spend longer time at a store; or even prevent stress at key moments such as during payment.

Complimenting Vitasolis in the Edeka trial is Optisolis, another innovation from NICHIA. Optisolis has a spectrum closer to sunlight than any previously developed LED, and revealed the true colours of products like fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. Optisolis has an exceptionally high colour rendering index (CRI) of 98, compared with 80 to 90 for typical retail lights.

For supermarkets like Edeka, the repertoire of lighting techniques includes the ‘meat lamp’, which brings a reddish glow to the butcher’s counter, making cuts look fresh, juicy and appetising. At the fish counter, bright, cool lights reflect the shine of freshly caught seafood and the sparkle of ice, while in other areas, carefully devised lighting subtly draws the attention of clientele to promotions or important items. Even outside the store, window display lighting schemes help attract the gaze of shoppers, tempting them inside.

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