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China’s lighting market

Hits:  Date:2014-10-21

I.  Market overview

  1. Lighting products are essential to the development of the national economy and people’s livelihood. As China’s economy continues to grow and people’s living standard rises, the demand of the mainland market for lighting products is also expanding. In the last 20 years, China’s lighting industry has been developing rapidly at a steady pace and the country has become a leading lighting producer and consumer in the world. Figures from Euromonitor show that the total value of electric lamps and lighting equipment China produced in 2013 amounted to Rmb387.6 billion, up 21.6% year-on-year.

  2. There are many factors propelling the growth of the mainland lighting market:

    • Urban functional lighting: Infrastructures such as airports, railways, ports and urban rail transport systems all need lighting. Meanwhile, flood lighting in city squares, green areas, roads and buildings has spread from large cities to small and medium-sized cities. As China continues to urbanise, the potential demand for urban public lighting projects is huge.

    • Industrial and commercial lighting: Today, industrial enterprises are attaching more and more importance to the role played by lighting in enhancing production efficiency, while commercial enterprises are spending more money on lighting shopping malls in order to attract customers. At the same time, lighting in offices, schools and hospitals has also seen marked improvement.

    • Consumption upgrade: As consumption structure continues to upgrade, people are placing more importance on the choice of domestic lighting. This, coupled with the rapid development of the property market, is bound to boost the sale of interior lighting fixtures. Following the growth of the real estate sector in the mainland, high-class residential communities and villas emerge one after another, bolstering the demand for yard lamps and lawn lamps. The demand for high-end lighting fixtures is increasing.

  3. In the landscape lighting market, decorative lights for public areas such as streets and squares are the leading products. The priority given by China to the policy of developing energy-saving environmental protection industries will continue to serve as the major impetus propelling the development of light emitting diode (LED) lighting.

  4. Today, luminaires for the home are no longer confined to simple lighting. Consumers now place more emphasis on the ambience created by lighting in their home. As such, they would pay great attention to the styles and materials of the lighting fixtures to ensure that they match with the decoration of their home. Hence, lighting has become a must in creating lifestyle. The design, style and colour of light fixtures are becoming more and more sophisticated while more efforts are being devoted to achieving the right artistic effects.

  5. Trendy, personalised, energy-efficient and eco-friendly lighting fixtures are the latest trends in home decoration. In the mainland market, demand for personalised luminaires is expanding and the colours of lighting also come in a great diversity.

  6. Meanwhile, lighting fixtures are becoming more sophisticated. Lighting products for different environments or purposes have been developed, such as iridescent lamps, writing lamps, daylight lamps, dinner lamps and floor lamps. Besides, there are lighting series designed specifically for children. Energy efficiency, eco-friendliness and high technology content are also major development directions in the lighting industry.

  7. Driven by the National Semiconductor Lighting Project, seven national semiconductor lighting industrial bases (namely Shanghai, Dalian, Nanchang, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Yangzhou and Shijiazhuang) were formed. In October 2009, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the Opinions on the Development of the Semiconductor Lighting Energy Saving Industry promoting energy efficiency and emissions reduction. It is projected that by 2015, the average annual growth of the output of the semiconductor lighting energy-saving industry will reach about 30%.

  8. Under China’s Roadmap for Phasing out Incandescent Lamps, starting from October 2012, the import and sale of incandescent lamps for general lighting are to be phased out according to their power. Incandescent lamps 100W and above for general lighting are prohibited from import and sale as from October 2012; incandescent lamps 60W and above for general lighting will be prohibited from import and sale as from October 2014; while incandescent lamps 15W and above for general lighting will be banned from import and sale as from October 2016.

  9. The demand for energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), an alternative to incandescent lamps, is expected to rise gradually. Meanwhile, amidst the worldwide trend of green lighting, the promulgation and implementation of China’s subsidy policy for energy conservation and the consumers’ increasing awareness of energy saving are set to promote the overall market performance of energy-efficient lamps. To promote CFLs, in May 2014, Fuyang city in Auhui province offer 450,000 CFLs at preferential prices. Consumers were given a subsidy of up to 50% of the ex-factory price of the products. Local enterprises are also encouraged to market these products in commercial streets and through labour unions of enterprises for the convenience of consumers.

  10. The LED market gradually opens up as incandescent lamps are being phased out. LED, known as the fourth-generation light source or green light source, can be applied in various areas such as signage, displays, decoration, back light, general lighting and urban nightscapes. The illumination efficiency and lifespan of LED lights excel both CFLs and incandescent lamps. While LEDs are generally more expensive, they are friendly to the environment and human health. It is expected that more manufacturers will offer LED products which are increasingly favoured by consumers, spurring the growth of the LED market.

  11. Electrodeless discharge lamps (EDLs) enter China’s lighting market in recent years as the new generation energy-saver and compete with LEDs for the title of the fourth-generation light source. EDLs are durable, energy saving, environmentally friendly and of high illumination efficiency. The shortcomings of EDLs include: they are several times more expensive than other energy-saving lamps; the lack of harmonised national standards for EDLs; the possibility of external electronic interference when in use, etc.

  12. Some lighting products in mainland cities were found to be sub-standard. According to a report analysing the quality of LED lighting products in Jiangsu province in the first quarter of 2014, only 60% and 50% of the LED lights and energy-saving lamps randomly selected for inspection meet the relevant requirements respectively. Test results on energy-saving lamps released by the Beijing Consumer Association in 2011 showed that only 52.83% of the samples met the relevant national standards. Such low compliance rates could be attributed partly to the keen price competition in the LED lighting market which forced some manufacturers into using sub-standard materials to reduce production costs. The healthy development of China’s lighting market would be hampered should this situation persist.

  13. China’s imports of major lighting appliances and related products in 2013:

    Table: China’s imports of major lighting appliances and related products in 2013
    Table: China’s imports of major lighting appliances and related products in 2013

II.  Market competition

  1. Further integration of China’s lighting industry has led to the formation of five major production bases in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian and Shanghai. The number of lighting enterprises in these four provinces and one municipality account for over 90% of the total number of enterprises in the industry. In terms of product type, each of the five production bases has its own characteristics:

    • Guangdong mainly produces interior lighting fixtures, with Guzhen in Zhongshan and Dongguan being the leaders in producing decorative luminaires. There are over 7,000 lighting companies in Guzhen, most of which are mainland enterprises, with total output of the local lighting industry reaching Rmb17.1 billion. In Dongguan, where Hong Kong and Taiwan-invested enterprises dominate, the products are mainly supplied to the international market. But in recent years greater efforts have been devoted to developing the domestic market. Other cities in Guangdong such as Foshan and Huizhou also account for a considerable share in the domestic market.

    • Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai mainly produce outdoor lighting fixtures and light sources. Yuyao in Zhejiang and Gaoyou in Jiangsu are the major producers of street lights. In the Ningbo region, outdoor decorative lighting fixtures are the leading products. Shangyu, Lin’an and Jinyun primarily produce energy-saving lamps, round tubes and car lights. Shanghai and Changzhou in Jiangsu are leaders in producing flood lights and electrical accessories.

    • In Fujian, lighting fixture production mainly concentrates in Xiamen, where energy-saving lamps are the major products. The total output value of Xiamen’s opto-electronics industry reached Rmb121.8 billion in 2013, accounting for over 50% of the province’s total opto-electronics output. Xiamen has approved 1,775 LED patents and 924 invention patents since 2008, registering an average annual growth of 27% and 25% respectively.

  2. China’s lighting industry is highly fragmented. According to the China Association of Lighting Industry, currently there are over 10,000 domestic brand companies in the country. First-line brands include NVC, TCL, Foshan Lighting, Yankon Energetic Lighting and Opple. However, both the influence and channel control of local brands are rather weak, especially in the area of commercial lighting projects, where a wide gap still exists between local brands and international brands.

  3. International brands on China’s lighting market include Philips, General Electric and Osram. The quality, decorativeness and versatility of their products are better. These brands dominate the high-end market supplying mainly to corporate clients such as upmarket communities, villas, hotels and government facilities as well as a small number of high-end individual consumers.

  4. Survey findings reveal that among a number of domestic and foreign lighting brands, Philips ranks first in “brand image and recognition” as well as “market share and consumer attraction”. Traditional lighting brands Opple and NVC come second and third respectively in these two categories. In general, consumers are not particularly loyal to any of these brands. Given the rapid growth of the lighting market, variables still exist in terms of brand awareness and ranking.

III.  Sales channels

  1. In China, lighting products are mainly sold through specialised lighting marts, brand stores, electrical appliance stores, home appliance chain stores, supermarket chains, hardware stores and building materials marts. Currently, most lighting products are distributed through specialised lighting marts. As technology advances, more enterprises have adopted online platforms as a new sales channel in recent years.

  2. Many manufacturers and distributors showcase their products to consumers at specialised lighting marts under one roof. Since selling products at these specialised marts is more direct than counter sales, the interaction between buyer and seller is stronger, prices are relatively low, and choices are extensive, such lighting marts are highly popular with consumers and have been developing in leaps and bounds in recent years. In Zhejiang, Hangzhou, Beijing, Taiyuan, Shanghai, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Chongqing and Shijiazhuang, large lighting marts of various sizes have emerged.

  3. Hardware stores, which are in effect building materials stores selling a great variety of building materials and related products, are one of the important sales channels for lighting fixtures. As hardware stores are widely distributed, some small and medium-sized enterprises, despite the fact that they cannot compete with international and domestic branded enterprises in terms of strength, can still make a breakthrough by concentrating their resources in hardware stores in a certain regional market and building regional brands.

  4. Some lighting enterprises on the mainland with considerable strength have heightened their brand awareness and have established specialised brand stores in various regions, unifying their store image, strictly controlling prices, and forming supply and sale networks. Examples include lighting giants Huayi, Opple, NVC and Midea. Meanwhile, lighting chain stores have emerged. For instance, Yidengdashi is one of the stores specialising in home lighting fixtures.

  5. More lighting enterprises adopt e-commerce models as a new sales channel in recent years. Some companies more actively through online channels as they do not usually have a comprehensive sales network. Many new enterprises have secured an advantageous position in the online sales market. The O2O e-commerce model which combines offline experience in physical stores and online ordering is also gaining popularity in the lighting appliances market. Traditional enterprises, as they are usually operating a number of physical stores, can readily provide consumers with offline experience and thus have an edge over pure online traders in establishing an O2O business. First-movers in the O2O market include Hugewin and Lionway. This sales channel is set to be more widely adopted by lighting products vendors.

  6. Industry players can obtain the latest information on lighting fixtures and lighting products from trade fairs. Given below are some of the lighting exhibitions in China in 2014 and 2015:

    Table: Some of the lighting exhibitions in China in 2014 and 2015
    Table: Some of the lighting exhibitions in China in 2014 and 2015

IV.  Import and trade regulations

  1. Basically there are no changes in import tariffs on lighting products in 2014. Given below is a summary of related products:

    Table: Summary of import tariffs on lighting products in 2014
    Table: Summary of import tariffs on lighting products in 2014
  2. Foreign companies entering the China market should take note of the relevant standards in the mainland. Under the Standardisation Law of the People’s Republic of China which came into force on 1 April 1989, there are four sets of standards with descending order of binding force, namely national standard, industry standard, local standard and enterprise standard. National standards are classified into mandatory standard and recommended standard, their standard codes are GB and GB/T respectively. Industry standards are also classified into mandatory standard and recommended standard; lighting falls under light industry and the standard codes are QB and QB/T respectively. Semiconductor lighting falls under the electronics industry, its mandatory and recommended standard codes are SJ and SJ/T respectively.

  3. National standards on LED are being formulated and improved. A number of national standards were implemented in 2010, including LED Modules for General Lighting – Safety Specifications (GB 24819-2009), and LED Modules for General Lighting – Performance Requirements (GB/T 24823-2009). Moreover, a number of industry standards were also introduced in 2010, such as Measurement Methods for Semiconductor LED (SJ/T 11394-2009), and Measurement Methods for Chips of Semiconductor LED (SJ/T 11399-2009). For enquiries on relevant standards, please visit the website of the Standardisation Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the standards website operated by the Industry Coordination Department under the National Development and Reform Commission[1].

  4. Starting from 1 August 2003, all products listed in the 3C certification catalogue which have not obtained approval certificate from the designated organisation and affixed with the certification marking are not allowed to be imported, sold on the market or used in business activities in China. Imported products entering the country must present their 3C certification to the entry-exit inspection and quarantine department for customs clearance. The inspection and quarantine department would take random samples of the products for marking inspection and perform testing in compliance with the relevant technical requirements of 3C certification. The scope of 3C certification for lighting products cover embedded lighting fixtures, fixed general purpose luminaires and portable general purpose luminaires with a power supply voltage higher than 36V and lower than 1000V; as well as fluorescent lamp ballasts, discharge lamp (fluorescent lamps excepted) ballasts, and AC electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps with a power supply voltage not exceeding 1000V.

  5. Two semiconductor/LED industry alliances jointly issued four LED lighting technical standards on 30 May 2014 to fill the gap in the standards for the relevant products in China. These standards are Self-ballasted Non-directional LED Lamps for General Lighting: Specifications and Classification; Self-ballasted Non-directional LED Lamps for General Lighting: Performance Requirements; Double-end LED Lamps: Safety Requirements; and Double-end LED Lamps: Performance Requirements. One of the industry alliances focuses on semiconductor lighting technology evaluation (半導體照明技術評價聯盟) and the other on semiconductor lighting/LED industry development and applications (中國半導體照明/LED產業與應用聯盟)

  6. On 31 December 2013, China promulgated the new national standard Embedded LED Lamps: Performance Requirements which will be implemented on 1 December 2014 to help regulate and guide the lighting industry in China.

  7. China announced on 31 December 2013 a host of new national standards for lighting products, namely the Luminaires - Application of the IK Code (new), Luminaires for Road and Street Lighting (newly revised), Fluorescent Induction Lamps - Safety Specifications (new), Glow-starters for Fluorescent Lamps (newly revised), and Neon Lamp Controlgear (newly revised). The GB codes and implementation dates of these standards are listed below.

    Table: The GB codes and implementation dates of these standards
    Table: The GB codes and implementation dates of these standards
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