Hikvision Hits Record 'ALL PRODUCTS' Sales Run

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 30, 2017

Hikvision has a new record.

This one is for the most times a video surveillance manufacturer has put all their products on sale in 2 months. Hikvision is finishing its 4th "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" sale in 7 weeks, since mid-May.

In this note, we examine the patterns of sales and the competitive impact of them.

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*** ** **** ****** that, Hikvision *** *** ******* *** end ** ***:

 

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Comments (55)

This is getting to be ridiculous.  What cracks me up is that the RSMs go around acting like they are the ones "bringing it".  Let's be honest, they are hitting a price point, NOT adding much value.  It doesn't take talented sales people to sell the cheapest product on the market, in my opinion.  Where do these guys add value?  Queue Marty...

It doesn't take talented sales people to sell the cheapest product on the market

Hikvision does not see themselves as selling the 'cheapest product' on the market. They point to a range of options, from their own OEMs (e.g., LTS branded Hik), grey market Hikvision from China, Dahua sometimes, the whole host of Shenzhen / South China companies (e.g., Longse), etc., etc.

But the counter is that Hikvision is not selling 'just' a product. They are selling sales support, tech support, advanced replacement, local in-stock supplies, hopefully a premium brand ('the art of video surveillance", etc.) that none of their lower cost competitors offer.

In other words, Hikvision should be able to demand a premium relative to those that are 'cheaper' than them considering Hikvision spends vastly more on sales, marketing, support, etc. than the cheapest options. Hikvision is still heavily discounted compared to other organizations that spend on direct, local sales, marketing and support (like Axis and Avigilon, e.g.).

John hit on a good point.  This is not like a consumer who is making an impulse buy to go run and buy because of a sale.  The systems integrator has a steady business.  They are only going to install so many systems.  They are not going to see a bump in sales because they are dropping their installation costs by the price of the camera cost reduction.

Hik promise support until you have some issues, then the fun begins.
We have had installers stuck on remote locations for up to 9 days trying to resolve issues. It was not a huge issue, but the distinct lack of real & true support meant that the issue was not resolved as fast as it could have been.
It's like another popular manufacturer who I opened a support case with in March. I am still waiting for a reply on a simple integration & firmware issue, just a reply to my case would be nice. I don't demand an answer, just a reply acknowledging my email...

Hik Fatigue is in full effect- Aside from distributors drinking the security industry equivalent of Jim Jones Juice, dealers have expressed they struggle to make any hardware margin because HikVision is always on sale somewhere every month. Therefore any competing dealer has a weekly opportunity to buy the product for less and undercut them. For end users that seek alternative bids, they are the only ones who win.

As for those Hik regional salespeople "bringing it", one Hik regional manager expressed concern over shrinking territories and the company on a hiring spree of college age grads to run those now split regions. Certainly a sign of what it most likely a long term strategy to reduce their overhead per employee.

Run the score up, pull the starters who aren't returning next season and put a trophy in the company medal case...

Aside from distributors drinking the security industry equivalent of Jim Jones Juice

Serious question - are not these sales good for distributors? Sales create urgency and considering Hikvision is the one eating the discount, distributors benefit from this? Yes/no?

In part, I would agree that disti is benefiting from these sales, however, they too operate on margins at about 10-20% (average) A $75 dollar camera will produce about $9 in total profit. Also, a lot of disti sales reps are paid out on gross-margin dollars, not top-line revenue, therefore one would need to sell a lot of cameras to make anything. 

One possible advantage could be that the Hik sale is a loss-leader for add-on products like cable, connectors, brackets etc. Here the disti channel could attempt to capitalize on higher margin items and sell the whole project, not just the cameras. 

Furthermore, I would think this would be a dis-advantage as they are locked into a pricing structure being mandated by the manufacture, limiting their ability to capitalize on higher margin per the integrator/end-user making the purchase. From my experience, disit does not like to be trapped by pricing. 

It's back to control panels sales at cost and make your money on keypads which are 1.5 times average per panel. This was 1990 strategy plus they sold lots of other items while the dealer was in their disti locations 

It's back to control panels sales at cost and make your money on keypads which are 1.5 times average per panel.

Larry, what do you see as the video equivalent to making money on keypads for alarm systems? 

Well you can sell more higher margin versions plus keep Dahua from getting traction. Like  I said they wouldn't do it if it didn't serve a purpose. 

Why do you think they do it?

Well you can sell more higher margin versions

Larry, that's certainly a possibility. However, the way they are structuring the sale (everything being on sale vs just higher margin or older stock) is not optimizing for selling higher margin versions. Actually, to your point, I think it would be a good idea for Hikvision to structure their sales to motivate dealers to buy more higher-end Hikvision products.

keep Dahua from getting traction

Could be, I do not know how threatened or concerned Hikvision is about Dahua. From what we have seen about Dahua, Dahua is more of a danger to themselves than any one else...

Why do you think they do it?

My theories:

(1) Maximize immediate top line revenue growth. Profits / losses are less important than top line. That's something we have heard consistently from sources close to Hikvision. And to that end, I think they are succeeding at this objective (of course, long term issues are another matter)

(2) Win back / make buyers forget about the cybersecurity issues (e.g., Hikvision's DHS cyber security worst score advisory that happened right before this unprecedented sales run started. Most people will forget, give them a little extra bonus / incentive in the short run to keep people satisfied.

John: I used to run as many sales I could get Distribution to do. I ran the lowest cost versions Dual Tec sensors so I could to get dealers in the door ,most times dealers walked out with longer range high cost sensors. Competitors got really frustrated with this, part of the war for market share is mental. 

We also loaded up the distributors stock so that competitors couldn't as the smallest disti's had limited money and sometimes space. We used to call it "Truckload" sales. 

there are lots of benefits from running sales at distribution. 

I like it because since I only use Hikvision. I can save a lot of money buying at sales prices which certainly makes my ADI branch happy. Plus my Hikvision rep is happy as I am not buying from LTS. 

Why are distributor allowing this, it has to be good for them. I would do it just to keep my thumb on Dahua.

I like it because since I only use Hikvision. I can save a lot of money buying at sales prices..

Yes, I believe that. Tell that to Sean Nelson ;)

Competitors got really frustrated with this, part of the war for market share is mental.

I agree about the mental part. Many of Hikvision's competitors are frustrated.

But Hikvision is clearly very frustrated themselves (e.g., no company sets up a blog to attack a 'blogger' unless they are frustrated and feeling pain).

So the question becomes who wears down first - Hikvision or their competitors? Hikvision's undoubtedly has lots of money but it could be a pyrrhic victory for them in the West...

----So the question becomes who wears down first - Hikvision or their competitors?

 

How about Hikvision or IPVM?

Good answers 

but as Josh says you need to look at the blended margins from the sales. Blended sales are tracked closely as he says. Top line growth doesn't work unless Bottom line goes with it from meeting the analyst estimates, but it could be balanced from somewhere else. Without Being on the inside you will never know. 

To your point of hacking well I had only four and the default password wasn't changed. Most manufacturers get hacked, Dahua and FLIR as well. It has not cost me a single customer, but I would think your pressure elevating these problems has caused EVERY manufacturer to get better at preventing this. To which we all thank you. 

 

 

 

That was an FBII genius move to counter DSC's price discounting when the CAD had an advantage. 

I would have to disagree in part. Just to pull margins out of the air, assuming the distributor makes a 30% gross margin on a Hik camera they can expect to make x margin dollars on y unit sales. If y+n unit sales increase as a result of price cuts, with enough volume and constant margin the x-n unit dollars can still increase.

The "coffin corner" risk I see here, for both Hik and its distributors, is that dealers will come to see the sales price as the expected normal price, and respond by NOT buying larger quantities during the twice a month "sales." Should that occur, then you have a double whammy of constant unit demand and lower margin dollars per unit.

The margin quoted was not completely out of the air, it is average I have found, per conversations with distributors around the US. I know that number will change from region to region and even on an integrator to integrator level. Additionally, some disti's have a 'back charge' to manufactures in the range of 2-5% for the volume sold in a given month. 

As I just posted below, the 'make it up in volume' argument has pitfalls. The cost to build and secure business with very small profit-dollars cannot be scaled to support the over head needed. 

You do bring up an interesting observation. If the twice a month sales stops producing the high volume of sales... there could be some potential issues for both Hik and distribution. 

Let's not forget Dahua, who looks like they're dropping their pants equally as far.  A company with proportionately equal amounts of overhead, pillaging talent left and right to build their ranks, only to then give the house away promoting a "me too" line of products with an already abysmal profit margin at even more drastically reduced prices. This seems like a long-term business plan you'd expect to see from the "industry leaders".

I believe both companies are in for a rude awakening.

Let's not forget Dahua, who looks like they're dropping their pants equally as far.

We have not seen Dahua do as many of these sales as Hikvision, though as we show in the report, Dahua is currently joining Hikvision in this week's sale.

A company with proportionately equal amounts of overhead

I would suspect, proportionately, Dahua's (USA) overhead is much larger than Hikvision's. Dahua has over 100 USA employees now but far far less (5x or less) than Hikvision USA revenue. Dahua USA's overhead is amazing as they ramped up so quick. Maybe the legion of newly hired sales people in the last year start pouring in massive amounts of revenue, but given their competitive positioning, I am doubtful of that.

You hit the yuan right on the head.

I disagree, when will this 'awakening come'? 2 years? 5 years? It has been several years now that Hik- has led the Industry with Sales and Support so how long do we have to prepare for the eventual downfall of Hikvision?

The distribution analogy about selling other components is correct. Blended margin per sale and/or per customer is what they monitor and are most sensitive to.

In the case of the dealer buying say, HD analog video to do an upgrade at an existing install where no other equipment is needed (use existing infrastructure) is where the add-on sales are non-existent and the distribution sale, even if profitable, is very low in sales dollars. 4 HD cameras kits including a recorder running for less than $250 is not going to blow out anyone's top line margin quota.

Yes, you could argue the price point affords a new class of end user affordability, but that also supports the age old justification analogy of low profit by "making it up in volume".

At one point, in the past, I would have agreed that the "making it up in volume" was a valid go-to-market strategy, however experience has changed my mind. 

To your point, $250 sale, about $50 in profit, assuming a good margin of 20%. The $50 in profit requires: 

  • Sales support, phone/email
  • Shipping
  • Inventory
  • Support
  • Outside sales
  • Inside sales
  • Accounts payable 
  • Accounts receivable
  • Travel expenses
  • Beer, lunch, dinner, golf
  • etc, etc. 

At some point, the volume needed to support the over-head necessary cannot be scaled to the level needed to make a total gross-profit. In many ways, sales is a numbers game. In that sense, the numbers need to support the investment required for sales and must be scaled and supported by the sales team. 

From a sales reps perspective, assuming a 5% commission on gross-margin (seems to be the average) a sales rep would make $2.50. Is that even worth the time picking up a phone call or sending an email...? 

I still think they run these sales as an advertising tool to pick up and entice new dealers who otherwise wouldn't have chosen them. I think the philosophy that they are trying to entice is "its so cheap, why not try it out". Then when they do try it out, they are hooked as a Hikvision dealer once they see how well the products really work. AKA, loss leaders, even though i guarantee you they are not losing.

Im not so sure these sales are necessarily used to move a ton of product to existing Hik dealers like everyone is alluding to. I agree, the typical Hik dealer or most any dealer for that matter are typically not going to "stock up" on stuff that is on sale. They are simply using it to create awareness.

I still think they run these sales as an advertising tool to pick up and entice new dealers who otherwise wouldn't have chosen them.

For sure, that's a fundamental goal of a sale, whether selling cookies or cameras.

Im not so sure these sales are necessarily used to move a ton of product to existing Hik dealers like everyone is alluding to.

But Hikvision's own sales flier clearly markets this to move product to existing dealers, i.e., the big stock up message:

They are simply using it to create awareness.

As the flier above from Hikvision shows, that's simply wrong.

Beyond that, when the sale is being run 4 times in 7 weeks, it is literally hard for Hikvision dealers to avoid buying on sale.

Finally, recall that last year many of the Hikvision sales were not 'double dips' and existing dealers did not benefit whereas now each of these 4 were 'double dips' that explicitly gives the savings to existing dealers.

 

------Finally, recall that last year many of the Hikvision sales were not 'double dips' and existing dealers did not benefit whereas now each of these 4 were 'double dips' that explicitly gives the savings to existing dealers.

Possibly not 'double dips' to IPVMs knowledge? Does IPVM have access to US Sales figures without mini-surveys or guesswork? Perhaps a discussion with hard-line top level; dealers would be in order.

Not so quick to blow off the existing large database of Platinum level dealers out there which we are one. When you start moving volume 1000+ instead of 100 cameras a month, Hikvision steps in and makes you aware that product is available anytime at better pricing than any sale or flyer out there. Sales are flatly devised to bring in more 'educated dealers' to the advantages of using Hikvision over other competitors. No other manufacturer cares if you continually purchase 1000+ cameras a month, except Hikvision, as they offer you greater support and pricing that undermines the Pelco's, Areconts, Univiews, Samsungs and Dahuas of the world.

The argument that the government is buying all of the cameras does not hold water. Why dont you ascertain the figures for Hikvision US sales only against other competitors IN THE US and see where they stack up instead of claiming 'government sales' is why they are # 1?

Possibly not 'double dips' to IPVMs knowledge?

The flyers are clearly marked when they are or are not double dips.

When you start moving volume 1000+ instead of 100 cameras a month, Hikvision steps in and makes you aware that product is available anytime at better pricing than any sale or flyer out there.

I am sure they give you amazing discounts. You deserve it.

No other manufacturer cares if you continually purchase 1000+ cameras a month, except Hikvision, as they offer you greater support and pricing that undermines the Pelco's, Areconts, Univiews, Samsungs and Dahuas of the world.

That's because companies not owned by a government need to earn profits.

The argument that the government is buying all of the cameras does not hold water.

Who is making that argument? Source? For the record, Hikvision's own financials show, that even in 2016, China domestic sales was 70%+, maybe you are misinterpreting that statement.

Well it's end of quarter ever seen how Napco runs sales for years at this time every quarter got to make the analysts estimated or your stock drops like a rock. 

There are many reasons why they do this and all of them are not obvious but if they didn't serve a purpose they wouldn't do it 

Well it's end of quarter ever seen how Napco runs sales

Agreed, end of quarter sales do happen. But running 3 across the board sales in the weeks prior to the end of quarter and then a 4th the last week of the quarter is atypical.

if they didn't serve a purpose they wouldn't do it

What do you believe the purpose of Hikvision's 4 sales in 7 weeks is?

I wonder if the guys who can buy HIK direct get the same sale advantages?

Another issue is the camera and recorder selling prices have fallen exponentially quicker than the growth of the market.  This is simple Math 101 which is unsustainable. 

Another issue is the camera and recorder selling prices have fallen exponentially quicker than the growth of the market

From what we have seen the overall (non-China) video surveillance market, in terms of revenue is effectively flat (roughly speaking, plus or minus 5%). So unit sales are up greatly over the last few years but unit pricing has fallen comparably.

This is simple Math 101 which is unsustainable.

For who though? If I am Hikvision, my argument is that I am taking share from incumbents (whether its Speco or Nuvico or Everfocus, other Taiwan and Korean manufacturers, etc.) So for the latter incumbent companies, this is quite unsustainable. But if Hikvision can continue to scale up in foreign markets, they can better cover their local costs and hopefully one day raise prices as rivals exit.

I certainly think there are problems with that approach, but right now it seems more unsustainable for Hikvision's rivals than it does for Hikvision. Agree/disagree?

Well, certainly the practice of running end of quarter or end of fiscal year blowouts is not new. To Larry's point, Napco was indeed infamous for these with distribution, usually in the 10+% off range. Distributors knew to hold back for these like clockwork.

Where the Taiwan/Korea/etc companies are having heartburn is that the Chinese strategy is not tied to quarterly earnings or even annual performance for stockholders. Theirs rather is a scorched earth attack where they don't let up until competitors are wiped out or the remaining landscape is not enough to yield long term survival for those profit necessary companies.

 

Not the first industry a dominant company had gone for market share to knock out competitors. 

a dominant company had gone for market share to knock out competitors.

If I am Hikvision, the very last thing I want people to believe is that Hikvision is actively trying to put their competitors out of business. There are both potential legal issues (e.g., anti-trust) and branding problems (i.e., a Chinese government owned entity is out to destroy private foreign businesses).

Yeah sure, you really think anti trust laws are enforced today , besides they don't even come close to having enough market in share in the US to begin to qualify for this.

They are competing fair and square, it's called Capitalism. I have 70 to 80 percent market share for video in my town is that a anti trust violation? 

Off topic, but are you the same Larry Tracy that said, “Having dinner with the head of security for all of China in 1986, he promised if I helped him modernize the security industry in China he would make sure I had very good market share."

I'm not a sales guy, I'm the end buyer & user of cameras so I only look at this topic as a consumer.

Don't frequent sales lessen the consumer's perceived value of that brand? (think Nordstrom vs. Macy's) 

I assume it's still their goal to build their higher-end enterprise level installations (as targeted by their questionable ballet dancer ad campaign). Wont these always reoccurring sales hurt Hikvision in establishing itself with enterprise level installations outside of China? 

Maybe they aren't focusing on large customers right now as our memories fade about their ownership and security issues. This assumes they can avoid any new negative press.

I really don't see any harm in these sales from my perspective. I just wish they did more of the double dip sales. Usually, the sale prices are slightly above my normal pricing, but the double dip is really nice for the bottom line.

I really don't see any harm in these sales from my perspective. I just wish they did more of the double dip sales.

I think the sales magnify people's feeling about Hikvision. If you like them and use them (e.g., you), a sale is good, especially since so many of them now are double dips - make more money, etc. However, for those dealers that do not like them (and there are lots that don't - see our stats), the sales reinforce negative themes about Hikvision as they play into issues dealers have - unfair government backing, cybersecurity issues, etc.

 

Obviously the people who makes these decisions at Hikvision USA don't think so or they wouldn't keep running the sales. 

Obviously the people who makes these decisions at Hikvision USA don't think so or they wouldn't keep running the sales.

Hikvision may not think that these sales are polarizing their brand but that is certainly what is happening. You can see it in comments here and in our recent survey results on integrator sales views, etc.

More fundamentally, Hikvision may realize there is some negative brand impact but are more focused on short term sales results. It's like the anti-IPVM Hikvision blog series, it might make Hikvision feel better right now but it's damaging to their brand to engage in such petty name calling.

HIK is executing a pure market share play.  Profits are not part of the picture for them, yet.

Update: less than 3 weeks later, Hikvision is back (with FLIR and Honeywell) with another sale. For Hikvision, it is still a double dip but now they have limited it to just Value and TurboHD products, a notable change:

For the second month in a row (July and now August), Hikvision is back with a double dip sale but again only on the Value & TurboHD products:

Thank you Hikvision

#8, do you think it is better or worse to do the sale just on Value and TurboHD products?

It's amazing that they sell anything at all in the other 648 hours of the month...

Why are we not ragging on FLIR and Honeywell for offering a sale instead of only attempting to figure out the Hikvision strategy?

Marty,

1) Hikvision is "#1" in across the board sales, no one else is close, not FLIR, not Honeywell, etc.

2) This week's ADI sale is Hikvision and Seagate. If FLIR and Honeywell are doing a special broad sale this week as well, happy to include that but have not seen it yet. Feel free to post that there.

Not much strategy.  Drop price/shorts.  Get/Give the business.  

 

"Give the business" is referring to what HIK is doing to the industry.  

The value line sells like hot cakes anyway making this offer will only clear out last weeks dated inventory to make way for the next container ship of cameras.

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