Lighting is one of the most important merchandising tools for retail environments and trade shows. Different types of lights and colours not only create an appropriate mood for your brand and products/services; they also communicate powerful interactions for those who view your retail fixture or custom trade show exhibit.

A company may want to use an overhead lighting truss to showcase a new product or a soft lamp and ambient sources to create a warm, inviting atmosphere that makes visitors feel relaxed. Whatever your visual merchandising goals, choosing the right lighting should be an integral part of the creative process.

Many retail displays and trade show exhibits are also filmed and photographed, and so choosing the wrong type of lighting could result in a less-than-desired effect when your retail fixture or trade show display is reproduced in the media or online.

In the past decade, LED lighting (Light Emitting Diode) technology has revolutionized lighting, and the tradeshow industry has added an exciting new dimension to retail and trade show spaces. LED lighting allows retail and exhibit space to be illuminated in a full spectrum of colors, from soft yellows to bold blues and reds, to create a visually appealing space. Backlit graphics (duratrans and fabric images) using LED lighting are also popular in both trade shows and retail fixtures. Added benefits of LED lighting include greater energy efficiency and design flexibility, longer lifespan than incandescent lighting, and little radiated heat emission.

There is a wide assortment of lighting options available for all types of retail or trade show displays. One of the most popular lighting types is a spotlight, a performance light that can dramatically showcase your primary product and is available in various formats: incandescent, fluorescent, halogen and PAR can (a sealed beam PAR lamp housed in a can-like unit).

Whether it’s a retail fixture, a presentation centre or a trade show exhibit, companies often have literature and/or special messages that need to be highlighted, and that’s where accent lighting comes in. Accent lighting focuses light on a specific area or object, and common types include wall sconces, floodlights, recessed lights, torchère lamps, and track lighting. Accent lighting will help to define and add texture to your products, services and images.

For small spaces within retail environments and trade show exhibits, case and shelf lighting also provides an efficient way to spotlight display accessories or information. Shelf lighting includes strip lights, LED tape lights, and microfluorescent fixtures for linear illumination.

To create special effects in a retail display, strobe lights and Gobo lights are sometimes used. Gobo lights can project an image of a company logo or any other message onto a wall or floor of a trade show booth, and they can be programmed to project moving images or color onto a display.

Years ago, lighting was considered an afterthought for retail spaces and other branded environments, but today it is an integral design component for kiosks, retail and interactive displays, presentation centres, trade show exhibits and other forms of visual merchandising. The right lighting can convey your messages in a dazzling fashion and create an emotional connection with customers and prospects.