Axis, Avigilon and Hikvision Markups Revealed

Author: John Honovich, Published on Nov 23, 2015

100+ integrators told IPVM their top camera lines and their average markups. This note breaks down and contrasts the markups across Axis, Avigilon and Hikvision, revealing interesting trends and differences in profitability and competitive performance.

Metrics

The average markups are:

***+ *********** **** **** ***** *** ****** ***** *** ***** ******* markups. **** **** ****** **** *** ********* *** ******* ****** ****, Avigilon *** *********, ********* *********** ****** *** *********** ** ************* and *********** ***********.

*******

*** ******* ******* ***:

[***************]

  • **** **-**%
  • ******** ~**%
  • ********* ~**%

Ranking ****** *** ******

** ***** ** *** **** ***** ****** (************ ******) ** ********* *** ******, *** ************* *** ****** ** follows:

  1. ******** - *********** ** **** ***** *** ******** *******
  2. ********* - **** ******* ****** *** *****
  3. **** - *** ******* ********* *** **** *****

*** *******, ****** *** ******* ***** ****** **** *** ******** sells ** ~$*** *** ********* ** ~$***. **** ***** **** average contribution ****** *** ****** ** ~$*** *** ****, ~$*** *** Avigilon *** ~$*** *** *********. ****: ********'* ***** ************ ****** per ****** ** ****** **** ****** **** ********* *** *** fact **** **** ******** ******* *** ******* ********'* ********* ** well, ***** *** **** ****** *********.

Drivers ** ******

*** *** ******* ***:

  • **** ** ********* **********, ** ********** ********* *** ** **** well ***** ** ** ********** *** **** *********** *** ****** their ********.
  • ******** ************ ********* ****** ******* *** ****** *******, ******* **** to ****** ******** ******.
  • ********* ** ****** ********* *** ** ********* ***********, **** ******* can mark ** ********* ******* **** ****** *** ***** ** ***** competitive.

Trends *** ******

***** *** * ********* **** **** ******* *******, ** *** the ********** ** ******* ******** ** * ***** ****** *** the ****** ** ******** *** *********, ***** ********, ** *** expense ** ****, *** ******** ** ****** ************. **** **** helps ******* *** ******** *********** ** ******* *** ******* **** from ******** *** ********* ******* ******** ** ****.

Axis *** *******

************, *********** ******* **** **** ******** *** ****** *******, **** many ** *** *** *** ****** ****** ***** **%. ******** include:

  • "******* **% - **% ** **** ** *** ********** ******* Axis ********** ******* *** ***** *** *********** *** **** *****."
  • "** *** *** **% *** ** ***** *** **** ***'* possible **** *** *** % ******** ** ******** **** ****."
  • "** ****** ** *** **** ********* *** **** **** *** 25%"
  • "**%. ** **** ** **** **** ****** ** *** ************ services ** ** ***'* *********** *** **** * **** ******** on *********."
  • "**% ******. ******* ***********."
  • "**% ** *** ***** **** ** *** ** ******** ******** and ******** * ****** ******."
  • "** *** ** **** *** ******* ****** **% *******."
  • "****** ** ****** **% ** *** ********* *****."
  • "**-**%. ************, ** **** ******** ******* ** *** **-**% *****, but **** ****** *** ********** ******* **** **** *** **** 2-3 *****. **** ***** ** ***********-*** ********* ***** ******* *** squeezed ** *** *** *** *** ********."
  • "** *** ** **% *** ** **** ** **% **** cost ********* ** ***********, *** ****** *****, *** *** ********'* level ** ******* ************"
  • "** ******* *** ******** **** **% ** **% ****** ** most *******. ** ** **** ******* ** **** ** **** a **** ***** ** *** ********* ** **** ** **** a ****** ****** *********. ** ********* ** ** *** ** 10-12% ******."
  • "** ******** ****** * **% ****** ** *** *********, ********* on *** ************ **** *** ********. ** **** *** * new ******** ** ** **%."

** ******, ****** **** **** ******* *********** *** ***** ******* structure ********* ******** *************, ***** *********** ** ***** ******* *****, good *******, ****** ******* *** **** ********** ***** **** **** a **** ****** ******.

Avigilon ******** *******

** ********, ******** ******* ****** ** ** ******* ****** **** Axis ****, ********* ** *** ***-***, **** ******** *********:

  • "*** ******* *** **** ***** **% ********"
  • "**% *** **"
  • "******* ****** ***** ** **% - **%. ** ***** ** could ** ***** ** ****. *** ****** ** *** ****** in *** **** ** ** ********* ** ***** ** ** competitive *** **** ** **** **** ****** ***."
  • "*** ******* ****-** ***** ** ** ** *** **-**% *****. The **** ***** **** ** *** ** ******, *** ** are ** * **** *********** ****** ** ** ***** ******** sticker ***** **** ** *** ****** ****."
  • "******* **% ****** ** **** ** ** ************. **% ** box ****."
  • "**% ** ***%"
  • "**-**% - ********** ** **** * ******."
  • "**% ****** **% ******"
  • "*** ******* ****** ***** ** **-**% ********* ** ****** *** client ******. **** ***** ** ** ********** ******* *** *** customers ***** ********* **** *************."

**** **** ** *** ****, ******** **** **** **** ******* in **** ****** (****+ ***** ********) *** **** ***** ***** overall ******* *** **** **** ** ******* ** ******* ******* to **** ** ***** *******.

Hikvision **** ******

******* ** ********* *** ***** **** ********* ********* ***%+ *******, the ******* ** *** ************ *****: 

  • "********* ** *** *********... ** *** * *.* * ******** if ** *** *** $*** ** **** *** $***. ** seems **** * **** *****"
  • "*** ******* ****** ***$, * ***** **** *** ***$"
  • "********* **** ************ ** ************, ****** ***** ** ******* **% markup"
  • "***** [*******]: ********* ***% ******"
  • "** *** ** **** ** ****** **** ******* *** **** on * **% ****** (***% ******)"
  • "***% **'* **** ****** *** ******* ** ***"
  • "****** ** ***** **-**% ******* *** **********"
  • "*** [********* ***] - *** ***% **** ***** ****** **** supplier ** ***% *** ** **** ****** **** ******** + slightly ****** *******"
  • "*********... **-**% ******* *** ******* *** ** ***** * **** to **** **** ****** ** ****** ** *** **** ********* say **** **** *** **%"
  • "***... ******* ****** = ***.**% *** ** ** *** **** of *** * *** ***** **** ***** ****** *** ***** be ***** **** * *** ** ** ***********."

*******, *** ***** ********* ****** ***** ***** **** *******, **** had **** **** ******* *******, ** ***** *****:

  • "**% *** **** *** ****** **** ****."
  • "******* ******** ******* **% ** **% ********* ** *** ** it * *** ** ******* ********."
  • "*****'* ********* *** ****** *************. **** *** ****** ****** *** a ***** ****** *** ********* *** ******* ******* ******. * stick ** *** **-**% ****-** ****** ** **'* **** ** justify **** ****** ** * ********** ****** ** * ********."
  • "* *** ** **** ******* **% ** *** *** *** (if * **** ** **** *** ** **** ** *** the ***) ** **%, ** **% ***** ** *** *******. I **** ****, ********** ** *** *** ***, *** ******* are ******** * ********* *** *** **** ** ***** *** (online). ** ******** *** ****** ******** *** ***'* ******** *********** markups."

****** ******** *** ********. ****** ******* ********* *** **** ****, reducing ***** ************** *** ********* *************. ***** ******* ******* ************* but ********* *** **** ******, ********** ***** **************.

*******

** ******* **** *********'* ******* ****** ******* **** ******* ** the **** ******, ** *** ********* ****** ** ********* ******* and *********'* *** **** ********* **** **** ********* ************ ** common ** ****.

********'* ****** ******* ****** **** ****** ** **** ** **** continue ** ******** ***** *******. ********, ****' **** ****** **** **** poor ** ** ** ******** ** *** *** ***** ******* **********.

*** *** ******** **** *** *** ** ******* **** ***/** Avigilon ********* **** ***** **** ******* ** ****** ******* **** Hikvision. ** **** *** ****, ** ***** ********* ****** *** balance ** ***** *** ******** ************* ** *** *****.

Comments (42)

In the case of Hikvision, is it better to actively seek out OEM versions of the same Hikvision parts that still offers US warranty and support verses leaving your self more easily exposed to internet comparison shoppers that can easily bring your margins down?

I never heard of an end user that actually cared about Hikvision as a brand. The only brand credibility is currently with dealers anyway.

That's an interesting question / observation!

There are certainly some dealers that do just that, with LTS being the one we hear most often.

On the other hand, I am curious what Hikvision will do in the long run with those partners as they build their own brand.

Btw, one risk of the OEMs is firmware being out of date, e.g., Warning: ADI and Tri-Ed Video, Hikvision OEMed Products Major Security Risk

I agree. That is what we are doing. We use a OEM Hikvision brand which gives us better pricing (than Hikvision branded product) yet we get the same reliability and 3 year warranty with excellent support. We also have options in terms of colors (dark gray or white) which I don't think Hikvision offers.

Hi there. We are elsewhere in the world and would be interested in an OEM hikvision product. Would you be able to message me what the brand you use is? If not, no worries.

I have removed my name purely so my local competitors don't twig on.

thanks.

Undisclosed 4 Integrator - is there a way for me to message you? I'm sorry I'm not seeing how I would do this.

Note: when someone is undisclosed, we don't allow direct messaging to preserve their privacy. Sal, I'll email you offline to connect.

These integrators are based in the U.S.A right?
I can only dream of these mark ups :)

No, ~70% North America, ~30% outside North America

But even in the USA, markups varied from 12% to 200%, with many NA integrators getting under 30%.

The big question mark for all is whether Axis and/or Avigilon introduce much lower cost cameras to better compete with Hikvision. If they did that, it could certainly change the balance of power...

Though that might be playing into Hikvision's hypovolemic strategy?

Why would that help Hikvision?

Hikvision is winning right now because it's offering similar products and similar support at radically reduced pricing? If Axis, Avigilon or other brands cut into the pricing gap, life would be much harder for Hikvision, yes/no?

It would certainly not help Hikvision, but I think means it might hurt these companies margins on the short term, we've seen this slippery slope where a manufacturer gets roped in by Hikvision and hurt themselves margin wise (e.g. Geovision), by trying to compete and in essence selling on too thin of margins in a market that their company depends on (more so than Hikvision). So in essence, Hikvision ropes you into playing their game, and then the can outwait you and drive you into financial troubles. Problem is, it is happening either way, so damned if you do, damned if you don't.

China bans US tech products, and funds those that sell into the US. I looked at their products years ago, and they were awful, but they got big fast thanks to the way China looks out for it's own.

Until the US or other countries (in the case of Avigilon (Canada) or Axis (Sweden)) give such support behind a competing brand, it is going to be very tough.

The alternative is for the US to tariff the blank out of Hikvision, to offset their advantages from the Chinese Government in selling in the US. In the meantime, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon out of the legitimate concern of losing business, since Hikvision is so competitive.

"So in essence, Hikvision ropes you into playing their game, and then the can outwait you and drive you into financial troubles."

Sal, good point!

To that end, I think the smaller independent manufacturers are in a ton of trouble.

Because Hikvision is making money at these prices, even if because of subsidies, tax credits or being a state property.

Do you think Avigilon could make money selling at Hik prices? How many quarts are they ready to shed trying?

And what happens to the top end of the market while they're busy losing money on the bottom.

This is what He meant by "massive bloodletting."

This bloodletting comment by Jeffery is actually very appropriate.

Bloodletting (or blood-letting) is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Wiki

As opposed to blood spilling, blood letting is done to ones own self, in the hopes of full recovery.

If Axigilon decides to forgo profitability for market share, this is indeed a form of bloodletting

It is a defense to the Predatory Pricing tactics of Hik

Predatory pricing (also undercutting) is a pricing strategy where a product or service is set at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market

In essence, the predator undergoes short-term pain for long-term gain. Therefore, for the predator to succeed, it must have sufficient strength (financial reserves, guaranteed backing or other sources of offsetting revenue) to endure the initial lean period. Wiki

In Medicine, bloodletting is almost never beneficial to the patient. It can work in business, if you want and can outlast the predator. Axis could obviously last a while, but I doubt that is what Fujio was looking to do after paying top dollar for Axis.

Also keep in mind that such tactics would not be taken lying down standing up by Hik. Echoing the patriot J.P. Jones, Mr. He commented recently, "We have not yet begun to compete!"

Bloodletting indeed.

"Because Hikvision is making money at these prices"

I don't believe they are making money at these prices in North America. I am skeptical they turn a profit here and, obviously, they are nowhere close to their Chinese domestic business where the net profit margins are enormous.

"This is what He meant by "massive bloodletting."

I spoke with He about this, he firmly denied using that term and I believe him. He said it was incorrectly attributed to him.

That said, I agree that what is happening is bloodletting.

He said it was incorrectly attributed to him.

I wonder how that's possible? Is He* saying that someone else said it or that or that he was misunderstood?

First off, there's certainly truth in it. Second, "There's going to be massive bloodletting", is really hard to misinterpret.

Maybe He said "Massive bedwetting"?

*Can you imagine how strange this would read if He were a she? ;)

From talking to him, he seemed quite genuine that he did not say it and that the magazine choose that word.

Whether or not he said it, I think we agree that it is fair description of what is going on.

I refuse to believe that you got that many people to do the correct math.

I am quite familiar with terms like gross profit margin but the term markup as used in this article is not quite clear. Could you state how (in the context of this article) the markup relates cost and price? A small formula would be best.

For integrators, the total markup is the difference between price paid and price sold.

You might find this helpful to define the terms being used: Markups / Margins Tutorial

Paul, this is how we phrased the question with included formula / example:

"What is the average markup of surveillance cameras you sell currently? (e.g., if you buy for 100 and sell for 150, markup would be 50%) Why?"

My largest takeaway is you found that many integrators willing to share their profit margins in such a public manner. It confirms my belief that some sales people just cannot keep their mouths shut.

There is a difference between markup and margin. I always calculate my sales price for an item using margin. For example if I want to sell an item at a 20% profit margin, I will divide my cost for the item by 80%. ($100 / by .8 = $125), compared to a mark up of 20% ($100 x 1.2 = $120). Therefore, technically according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, for those of you that use markup, you are leaving money on the table and are not reflecting how your business does accounting.

Anyway, it is ideal for us to get 30%+ margins all competitive business opportunities, however that is not always possible. We get our ideal margins (or better) when we can, and when we can't, we don't, and between the two it often balances out in the end.

"Therefore, technically according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, for those of you that use markup, you are leaving money on the table and are not reflecting how your business accounting is done."

No, because your example is skewed.

"For example if I want to sell an item at a 20% profit margin, I will divide my cost for the item by 80%. ($100 / by .8 = $125), compared to a mark up of 20% ($100 x 1.2 = $120)."

In that case, you would just do a markup of 25% (i.e., ($100 x 1.25) and get the same profit.

We use markup because most sales people in the industry tend to use that but shifting between markup and margins is straightforward, as my counterexample above shows.

Your math and examples are correct John. But I think you would be (or maybe not) surprised at how many don't know the difference. It surprises me all the time. Brian's example video is simple enough, but it should be class 101 for everyone in business.

Yes it is easy to deduce the difference between margin and markup.

However, I just find it easier to stay on the right track to profitability when sales estimates reflect your financial statements, in your financial statements, the goal is to identify your gross and net profit MARGINS. When I estimate each project, I am able to easily identify the impact that project will have on my bottom line, if all goes as planned of course, but that's another story,

Thomas, yes, agreed on that. Since an income statement tracks margins not markups, it is more consistent to use that.

Jay Leno said it took 40 hours to adjust the valves on a Duesenberg. Back then, technology was expensive, and labor was cheap. Just the opposite exists today, and margin is how you avoid the best help and grow your business. There is no shame when you make customers happy and they willingly pay you for your services at the price you request. It's called freedom, capitalism, and business. Who is better qualified to establish the price that you are willing to accept to provide, install, provide terms if any and support something better than you?

I don't begrudge you or Microsoft for your margins....

Margins

"I don't begrudge you or Microsoft for your margins...."

Ok....

Microsoft's margins are simply different from security integrators. Microsoft is still primarily selling their own software, which has a marginal cost of near zero. As such, there gross margins are going to be very high. Integrators are primarily reselling hardware, which means their gross margins are going to be much lower.

Hi John, As you are aware, Markup and labor rates determins the final number. I believe if you put the 2 together you might see that the Hikvision dealers sell labor at a lower rate. I believe it should average out the same to the consumer. The Axis dealer looks at the product as a commodity and sell labor and vise versa.

2, that's an interesting observation. I do agree that Hikvision dealers likely sell labor at a lower rate but that's primarily a function of them being smaller companies, with less overhead and lower cost structure.

Either way, if Axis dealers need to charge more on labor than Hikvision dealers, that still provides an advantage for Hikvision dealers, no?

Not if they have any brains they don't. Why would they? No disrespect intended.

How long does it take to develop a camera? I ask because it seems as though everyone, particularly Axis, has been slow to adapt to the Chinese invasion. Slashing prices on the M series a few months back helped, certainly, but selling old product to compete against brand new lower cost equipment is a poor defense. If it takes 18 months to bring a new product to market this makes sense but if it only takes 6 months like it seems to take Hik/Dahua the slow response has to be an uncharacteristic lack of ability to adapt.

If it takes 18 months to bring a new product to market...

Agreed. I think this time could be cut in half if Axis would just design the cameras and let Hik build them. ;)

It's hard to cry foul when somebody is showing your new camera at the same time you are...

"How long does it take to develop a camera? I ask because it seems as though everyone, particularly Axis, has been slow to adapt to the Chinese invasion. "

Great question / observation.

For Axis, I think it has zero to do with development time / resources. Axis releases really complicated high end new cameras every month, so getting new products out to deal with the low end of the M series is fairly easy.

I believe that it's a strategic decision so far not to do so, as Axis tends to be cautious / conservative about cutting prices or making their more profitable higher end cameras less attractive (i.e., if Axis releases a $150 integrated IR dome, what does that do their $500 to $800 ones?)

That said, the M3004 / M3005, still 2 of Axis most popular models, are more than 3 years old and really need to be replaced, even if Hikvision / Dahua did not exist but even more urgent with them in the market.

If Axis releases a $150 integrated IR dome, what does that do their $500 to $800 ones?)

Yes, but at least compete on price OR features, not neither. Put the integrated IR in your higher end cameras as well.

Axis already has more than a dozen integrated IR cameras, the problem is that the minimum price is $400+.

Axis already has more than a dozen integrated IR cameras...

Axis finally has more than a dozen integrated IR cameras...

Und 5's point I believe is, why did it take so long?

You may recall the unpalatable choice Axis was spared with in the proposed high-end fixed-dome shootout:

Either try to match pixels and forgo IR, or

Match IR but have a resolution of just 1.3MP!

S&P Gross Margins

I've been around a few businesses, and regardless of being a manufacturer or re-seller, 50% gross margin is common for real businesses with employees and a plan.

The link you provide cites an average gross margin of 38.82% for S&P500 stocks. That's your evidence for 50% gross margins.

Resellers very rarely get 50% gross margins. For example, Anixter's gross margins are ~22% and Anixter has repeatedly mention that their margins for security product re-sales are significantly lower. Integrators, on average, are not that much better. From our surveys, the average integrator product gross margin is ~26%.

Look at the tech sector 57% - who wants to be average?

Wholesale distribution is neither a manufacturer or a re-seller despite any claim otherwise.

The tech sector is filled with companies that either sell their own software, hardware or information/ads. These are inherently much higher gross margin businesses with much higher fixed costs.

Being a re-seller of video surveillance products is much different and, as the numbers above prove, getting 50% gross margins for re-selling video surveillance products is very uncommon statistically.

If you have collected data on security / video surveillance integrators that proves otherwise, please share.

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