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Exporting lampshades to Europe

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European consumers are increasingly demanding environmentally sustainable home decoration products. This offers opportunities for producers in developing countries. Germany and the United Kingdom have a particularly strong market for developing countries. Combined with their interest in eco-friendly products, this makes them especially interesting focus countries. To reach these markets, you should clearly promote the eco design, materials and production of your lampshades.  


1 . Product description

Lampshades cover the light bulbs of pendant (hanging), floor and table lamps. They can be made of various materials and shapes. Eco lampshades (eco-friendly lampshades) have an eco-friendly aspect. This can be related to:

  • raw materials
  • production
  • transportation
  • impact on the environment during disposal

This factsheet focuses on the raw materials, based on the use of:

  • recycled materials
  • sustainable materials
  • waste materials

Please note that this study solely examines lampshades. It excludes light bulbs, electrical cords or other light fixture components.

This study uses the following codes to indicate trade in eco lampshades:

Table 1: Product codes

Harmonised System (HS)

Prodcom

Description

9405.9900

 

diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights)

 

3150.4255

lampshades in paper/cardboard

Quality

Functionality

For eco lampshades, functionality is a basic quality requirement. Lampshades need to be safe to use. They are close to a heat source and should not ignite. You can prevent this for example by coating them with a flame retardant. Lampshades need to diffuse the light coming from a light bulb, without blocking it all.

Material

As the lampshades covered in this study are eco-friendly, this is a main quality requirement.

Eco lampshades can be made of a wide range of materials, including:

  • (recycled) paper
  • textiles
  • (sustainable) wood, including bamboo
  • synthetics (such as recyclable propylene)
  • willow (wickerwork)

Design

The aesthetic value of eco lampshades needs to be high. They usually serve as eye-catchers in the room.

Labelling

  • Information on the outer packaging should correspond with the packing list sent to the importer.
  • Labels on the outer box of lampshades should include the following information:
    • producer
    • consignee
    • material used
    • quantity
    • size
    • volume
    • caution signs
  • EAN or Barcodes on the product label are common in Europe.
  • Your buyer will specify what information they need on the product labels or on the item itself. For instance logos or 'made in...' information. This is part of the order specifications.
  • Unless your buyer has indicated otherwise, use the English language for labelling.

Packaging

Importer specification

You should pack eco lampshades according to the importer’s instructions. They have their own specific requirements for:

  • the use of packing materials;
  • the filling of boxes;
  • palletisation;
  • the stowing of containers.

Always ask for the importer’s order specifications. These are part of the purchase order.

European legislation

Europe has specific packaging and packaging waste legislation. For instance, it restricts the use of certain heavy metals.

Europe also has requirements for wood packaging materials (WPM) used for transport, such as:

  • packing cases
  • boxes
  • crates
  • drums
  • pallets
  • box pallets
  • dunnage

Damage prevention

Proper packaging minimises the risk of damage caused by shocks. How an item is packaged for export depends on how easily it can be damage. The method of packing should make sure the items inside a cardboard box cannot damage each other. It should also prevent damage to the boxes when they are stacked inside the container.

Dimensions and weight

Make sure your packaging is easy to handle in terms of dimensions and weight. Standards are often related to labour regulations at the point of destination. The buyer will have to specify them.

Cardboard boxes are usually palletised for air or sea transport. Exporters have to optimally utilise the available pallet space.

Emission and cost reduction

For eco lampshades, reducing transport and transportation emissions is key. You can do this by flat-packing or efficiently stocking the items in the container. This also reduces costs. Consider this in your products’ design phase.

Packaging has to ensure maximum protection. However, you also have to avoid using excess materials or shipping ‘air’. Waste removal is a cost to buyers. You can reduce the amount and diversity of packaging materials by:

  • considering packaging and logistical requirements when designing your products;
  • asking your buyer for alternatives.

Material

Importers are increasingly banning wooden crates and packing. This is due to their unsustainability and high cost of both the material and the disposal thereof. Economical and sustainable packing materials are more popular. Using biodegradable packing materials can be a market opportunity. It can even be a requirement, especially for buyers of eco-friendly lampshades.

Wooden eco lampshades

Wooden lampshades can mould or crack. You need to properly dry the wood after production. Condensation inside the container during transport can cause mould. This is due to humid air that becomes colder at night and warmer during the day. You need proper ventilation inside the container to prevent this. Before shipment, you must make sure the containers have air holes. There are also special products available which help reduce humidity amongst the cargo. Make sure the importer’s instructions are followed here.

2 . Which European markets offer opportunities for exporters of eco lampshades?

European imports of eco lampshades are growing strongly. Developing countries supply over a third of these imports. Europe’s main importers of eco lampshades are:

  • Spain
  • Germany
  • the United Kingdom
  • France

Germany and the United Kingdom have a particularly strong market for developing countries. Combined with their interest in eco-friendly products, this makes them especially interesting focus countries.

Trade statistics

(!) The following data only gives an indication of trade in eco lampshades. No specific trade data are available. The import and export figures below cover diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights).

Imports

*This figure covers diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights).

*This figure covers diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights).

This figure covers diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights).

  • Between 2011 and 2015, European imports of eco lampshades grew strongly. From € 794 million in 2011, they reached € 1.3 billion in 2015. The average annual growth rate of 13% is impressive.
  • In the coming years, European imports are expected to keep growing moderately.
  • Developing countries supply about 36% of European imports. This amounted to € 465 million in 2015. This share is predicted to remain relatively stable in the coming years.
  • Spain is Europe’s leading importer of eco lampshades, with € 262 million in 2015. Germany (€ 193 million), the United Kingdom (€ 145million) and France (€ 101 million) follow.
  • When it comes to imports from developing countries, Germany (€ 84 million) and the United Kingdom (€ 74 million) are leading. This is 43% and 41% of their total eco lampshade imports, respectively.
  • Especially in Germany and the United Kingdom, imports from developing countries grew strongly between 2011 and 2015 by € 35 million and € 29 million respectively.
  • China dominates European eco lampshade imports, with 32% in 2015.

Tips:

  • Focus on Germany and the United Kingdom. Their large imports from developing countries make them especially interesting markets.
  • The markets for eco lampshades may differ from the markets for other lampshades. In general, demand for eco-friendly products is higher in Western European countries. Take this into account when deciding on your focus markets.
  • Compare your products and company to the strong competition from China. You can use ITC Trademap to find exporters per country. You can compare:
    • market segment
    • price
    • quality
    • target countries

Exports

*This figure covers diffusers, ceiling lights, bowls, cups, lampshades, globes, tulip-shaped pieces and similar glass articles for electrical lighting fittings (excluding chandeliers, searchlights and spotlights).

  • European eco lampshade exports consist mainly of trade within Europe.
  • Germany (€ 223 million) and the Netherlands (€ 100 million) are Europe’s leading eco lampshade exporters.

Production and consumption

(!!) There is no current production and consumption data for (eco) lampshades. Therefore, the following estimates are based on data from 2014.

  • European production of lamp parts is highest in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. It is increasing in Eastern Europe countries such as Lithuania and Poland.
  • Especially Western European countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom produce eco lampshades. ‘Made in Europe’ leads to lower transportation emissions and a lower ecological footprint.
  • Similarly, European demand for eco lampshades is concentrated in Western European countries. According to industry sources (buyers), the United Kingdom is an important eco lampshade consumer.
  • Industry sources expect European demand for eco lampshades to rise. This is the result of an increasing consumer awareness of sustainability.

Tip:

  • Because of the ‘Made in Europe’ trend, you need to stand out from the competition. Add uniqueness to your product to compete with European producers.

Macro-economic indicators

Real private consumption expenditure

  • Private consumption expenditure is an important indicator for the European home decoration market. The sector is closely linked to economic conditions. When money is tight, consumers postpone buying non-essential items until they have enough disposable income.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, European private consumption expenditure is expected to increase. This means that consumption of luxury and decorative products is likely to rise. Especially in emerging markets, consumers will have more money available to spend on these products. Consumers in mature markets already spend a fair amount of money on luxury, so growth in their consumption will be moderate.

3 . What trends offer opportunities on the European market for eco lampshades?

Eco status

Clear and inspiring stories about the sustainable impact of your products are very important. Consumers increasingly experience living in a more sustainable way as inspiring and pleasing. It makes them feel good to contribute to a better society and environment by buying ‘green’ home products. They gain status with friends and family from being seen as broadminded and having good taste. Therefore, the consumer needs to be able to explain why his interior product is good for people and planet.

For instance Good&Mojo are clear: they “want to do good by creating sustainable lights and helping people”. They make their Everest line of table lamps from eco-linen and bamboo.

Tip:

  • Clearly communicate how consumers contribute to a better world with your eco lampshades. Make a brief and clear description of your green features for your importer. Add visual material and stories to inspire the reseller and the consumer.

Innovative raw materials become mainstream

The lighting industry focuses mainly on the mass market and industries. This industrialised segment uses changes in technology to become eco-friendly. For example by reducing energy and containing heat. However, the ‘handmade’ niche segment experiments with sustainable concepts such as:

  • recycling
  • re-use
  • fairly-traded materials

This is largely thanks to young designers trying out these new materials. With this, they are pushing green design into the mainstream. The mainstream market is increasingly offering green design.

For example, Naomi Paul uses mercerised cotton and surplus silk from the fashion industry for her Sonne lamps.

Tips:

Eco design

Consumers in a mature European market for home goods are demanding. They will only consider paying a (slight) premium for a sustainable product when the design is interesting enough. Green products used to have a weak design. Environmentally and socially friendly products still have image problems in some parts of the market. Fortunately, global designers and brands are becoming interested in eco-friendly home goods like lampshades.

Eco design can be both implicit and explicit.

Implicit eco design

Implicit eco design uses cleaner processes or more sustainable materials and techniques. This is not visible in the lampshades’ design. In this case, you need to inform the consumer about your product’s environmental benefits.

For example, Muuto’s lamp Grain looks ‘regular’ but has a new composite material with bamboo.

Explicit eco design

Explicit eco design uses recycling or re-use. Here, the eco design element clearly comes out in the product design.

For example, Studio Schneemann uses flip-flops that washed up in East Africa in its lamps. Wonderable makes its ‘Halleluja’ lampshades out of recycled waste paper from a Vietnamese printer.

Tips:

  • Clearly communicate the eco-friendly aspects of your products. Especially when your eco design is implicit.
  • Make sure your new idea can be scaled up to supply European exporters.
  • If scaling up to meet demand from Europe is impossible, there are several options. For example, you recycle reclaimed objects or materials. If these run out, you can:
    • market the idea as a limited edition concept;
    • offer assorted ranges with different colours or components;
    • refrain from making an eco claim.
  • Research if you can use waste materials from local manufacturing industries for your lampshades. Think of cotton or paper waste.
  • Be honest in your marketing communication. Clearly demonstrate what makes your lampshade eco-friendly. Avoid claims that you cannot support.

Social sustainability

Consumers are increasingly combining environmental impact with the social impact of production and consumption. This makes eco concepts a good match for social concepts. Consumers care about a product’s impact on:

  • producers
  • workers
  • suppliers
  • their communities

Fairtrade initiatives are an example of this. For example, Ay Illuminate combines local handicraft and green materials with fair practices for its lamps.

Tips:

General lampshade design trends

Apart from eco design, there are several general trends in lampshade design.

Bunch lighting

Consumers like to cluster a number of (different) lampshades. With this ‘bunch lighting’ they make a personal statement.

Handmade with natural materials

Handmade with natural materials is a healthy niche market for lampshades. Your skills add design value to the green concept of using natural materials.

Personalisation

Personalisation is increasingly popular. Consumers want to ‘design’ their own lamps. They like to combine different shades with cords or stands. They also like the option to change fabrics or adjust the shape.

Complete collections

Although consumers like to make their own combinations, they may prefer matching lamps. This makes it important for you to offer your products in complete collections.

Tips:

  • Offer choice to allow consumers to create their own bunch lighting arrangement. Or offer a bunch lighting design consisting of a number of coordinated lampshades.
  • Show your skills. For instance in woodturning, felting or glass blowing.
  • Create flexible designs that consumers can use to design their own lamp.
  • Always offer a pendant, floor and table version of your shaded lamps.

See our study about trends for Home Decoration & Home Textiles for more information on general trends in the sector.

4 . What requirements should eco lampshades comply with to be allowed on the European market?

See our study about buyer requirements for Home Decoration & Home Textiles for the requirements applying to eco lampshades.

What legal and non-legal requirements must your product comply with?

General product safety

The European Union’s General Product Safety Directive applies to all consumer products, including eco lampshades. It states that all products marketed in Europe must be safe to use.

Tips:

  • Read more about the General Product Safety Directive in the EU Export Helpdesk.
  • Also use your common sense to ensure normal use of your product does not cause any danger.
  • The RAPEX database lists products that the European Union has rejected at the border, or withdrawn from the market. Check the database for lampshades and other eco products for an idea of what issues may arise.

Restricted chemicals: REACH

The REACH regulation lists restricted chemicals in products that are marketed in Europe. For eco lampshades, this includes for instance azo dyes and particular flame retardants.

Tips:

Wooden and paper eco lampshades: Timber Regulation

According to the European Union’s Timber Regulation, you must prove any timber used was harvested legally. This also applies to wooden and paper lampshades. Except when you use recycled, bamboo-based or printed paper. Products with a FLEGT or CITES license comply with the Timber Regulation.

Tips:

Textile eco lampshades: Textile Regulation

The Textile Regulation applies to all products on the European market containing at least 80% (weight) textile fibres. These textile products must have a label or mark, clearly stating their fibre composition. This should be durable, easily legible, visible and accessible.

Sustainability

Although sustainability isn’t a requirement regular lampshades must meet, for eco lampshades it is essential. European buyers increasingly demand the following certification schemes:

  • Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI): European retailers developed this initiative to improve social conditions in sourcing countries. They expect their suppliers to comply with the BSCI Code of conduct. To prove compliance, the importer can request an audit of your production process. Once a company is audited, it is included in a database for all BSCI participants.
  • Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): This initiative is an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. It aims to improve the working lives of people across the globe that make or grow consumer goods.

You can use standards such as ISO 14001 and SA 8000 to read up on sustainable options. Buyers on the eco market may demand compliance with such standards.

Tips:

  • Optimise your sustainability performance. Reading up on the issues included in the initiatives will give you an idea of what to focus on.
  • Buyers appreciate a good story. If you can show that you considered your company’s performance, this may be a competitive advantage. For instance with a self-assessment or a code of conduct.
  • For more information, see our special study on Sustainability in the Home Sector.

What additional requirements do buyers often have?

These generally niche requirements are actually common on the eco market.

Fair trade

The concept of fair trade supports fair pricing and improved social conditions for producers and their communities. Especially when the production of your lampshades is labour intensive, fair trade certification can give you a competitive advantage.

Common fair trade certifications are from:

Tips:

  • Ask buyers what they are looking for. Especially in the fair trade sector, you can use the story behind your product for marketing purposes.
  • Check the ITC Standards map database for more information on voluntary standards and their requirements, including fair production.

FSC certification

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification is the most common label for sustainable wooden products, including lampshades. It also covers paper. The FSC label guarantees that a product’s source material comes from responsibly managed forests. There is also a label for products containing at least 85% reclaimed materials. FSC-certified products are especially popular in Western European markets.

Tips:

5 . What competition do you face on the European eco lampshades market?

The competition for eco lampshades does not differ significantly from the sector in general. See our study about competition for Home Decoration & Home Textiles for a general overview. Also refer to our top 10 tips for doing business with European buyers.

6 . Through which channels can you get eco lampshades on the European market?

The market channels and segments for eco lampshades do not differ significantly from the sector in general. See our study about market channels and segments for Home Decoration & Home Textiles for a general overview.

Market channels

Eco-friendly lampshades are still a relatively niche segment in a mainly mass-market and industrialised lighting category. However, it is becoming a wider segment. Initially, eco lampshades were the domain of specialised ‘green’ importers. These importers sold through a network of small, ‘green’ retailers. Now, mainstream lighting segments are also increasingly making sustainable lighting options accessible. This is due to:

  • the Designer community showing the attractiveness of green concepts;
  • increased consumer demand for sustainability;
  • online interest.

In addition, general lifestyle brands in home decoration are now also including lighting in their offers. This also helps to make eco lampshades available to the general public.

E-commerce

E-commerce in home decoration is increasing. It can help you reach a broader range of customers. Retailers often combine online and offline channels. Consumers research and purchase products online. They shop around and compare prices on home decoration items. Small (gift) items such as eco lampshades are especially suitable for this.

To supply e-commerce, you have to be able to work with:

  • individual packing
  • individual labelling
  • limited minimum orders

Tips:

Trade associations and fairs Tips

These trade associations and fairs are useful sources for finding trading partners in Europe.

Market segments

The eco segment for lampshades is still a niche segment in lighting. So far there are no clear low, middle or high-end segments. Mainstream eco lampshades are often placed in the mid-high market segment. This is due to considerable design value on top in the offers.

The general market for lampshades is well structured. It has healthy lower and middle-market segments and a premium end. In the coming years, eco lampshades will reach the mid-high and premium segments. Handmade craftsmanship and high aesthetic will support this development.

7 . What are the end market prices for eco lampshades?

Prices of eco lampshades start from around € 20. They can rise to hundreds, or even thousands of euros for unique limited edition items. This is because such limited edition eco lampshades are valued as art. For instance, the price for the up-cycled cardboard chandelier Piantana by Corvasce is ‘on demand’.

Consumer prices depend on the value perception of your product in your chosen segment. Specifically, the price of your product depends on:

  • its uniqueness;
  • its design concept;
  • the background stories that you provide.

The following figure indicates a price breakdown for eco lampshades in the supply chain. This does not really differ from lampshades in general.

Figure 6: Indicative price markups for eco lampshades in %

Indicative price markups for eco lampshades in %

Please review our market information disclaimer.