Hikvision Desperate And Destructive Slashing

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 27, 2016

Now a 20% across the board price cut.

[Update: and another one less than a month later.]

Hikvision has taken their price slashing to a whole other level. And it is bad news, for Hikvision and their competitors.

Inside, we examine Hikvision's (at least) 5th sale so far this year, looking at what it means for them and the industry.

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********* ********** *** *** potential ** ** * profitable ***-**** ********** ** the ****, *** ***** **** 'settle' *** * **** conventional ***** ********, **** **** find ********** ** * spiral ** ********** ******* with ******* ******.

Comments (64)

Do we know that this is actually being driven by Hikvision, and not ADI? Couldn't it just be ADI desperate to get rid of aging stock? Hikvision seems to replace/upgrade their models faster than the average camera manufacturer.

No, because the sale is on ALL products, not limited to aging or discontinued models. Also, this is the third month in a row that ADI has run an across the board sale for Hikvision.

i would think ADI has a stock rotation agreement.

With a company that sells the same SKU for a year or two, sure. For Hikvision, which changes and upgrades constantly? What is Hikvision going to do with months-old stock?

I'm always curious if this has anything to do with Hikvision having to compete against it's gray market (amazon and websites like 123security) and white label self in the real market considering you can get those versions so much cheaper than the standard wholesale prices Hikvision USA cameras are priced at through their distribution model.

I hope other companies have a large war chest to stay in business. Seems like this tactic would only need to be sustained for a 12 to 24 months before competition is crushed. When you have a unending supply of cash, as Hikvision seems to, you can probably do this for years.

When you have a unending supply of cash, as Hikvision seems to, you can probably do this for years.

That is the key question / issue. If they really can keep supply cash like that, I agree. On the other hand, the burn is likely increasing while their core business inside China becomes less stable.

So there may be another race, within Hikvision to accomplish this while they still have the resources / willingness to fund this. I think this is the big industry cliffhanger for the next year or two - how that plays out.

There is a price war between Hikvision and Dahua, everyone else is just collateral damage.

Dahua is taking the hik approach, but without the massive funding. Main difference, alot of the Dahua OEM's used to be the Hik OEM's that got burned... They seem to be moving on from Dahua much earlier in the process this time.

There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

Dahua will survive regardless. They have a deep war chest.

Yes, Hikvision wants to beat out Dahua but who do they really want to crush.

The People's Republic of China wants to crush the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers but more importantly to crush America. They want to dominate in America, all facets of manufacturing. They win in cameras, they win next in whatever they want. The country supports the loss of revenue while they capture our markets.

You have a country that is running out of room, too many people, 1.4B people, about 4X the number in the US, about 1/4 the water we have in the US. Due to these reasons and many more, several leading analyst say that China within 10 years, will go to war to gain more area for their people. Maybe a key reason why India has put some major guns along 1 of their borders ( fact not fiction ), why India has started building up their Air Force and buying planes from Europe.

But yet, systems integrators don't care "NOW" if they buy from the Communists.

What about tomorrow when Americans realize how little they control in their own country?

Not that I disagree with your overall sentiment at all, but they have plenty of room for all the people China/Geography just no way to feed them all. There is a difference.

Also with a $365 billion trade deficit this is just a drop in a mighty large bucket. Why make Hikvision the line in the sand?

The country supports the loss of revenue while they capture our markets.

Exactly how do they finance this loss of revenue in multiple markets?

Listen, I'm not saying that they aren't being subsidized by the government to sell at or below cost. It's possible. There are signs they have engaged in predatory trade practices before, look at steel or consumer electronics or networking equipment and precious metals as examples.

Perhaps surveillance has be designated by the PRC as an industry to be dominated at any cost. Still, how much does it hurt Axis or Avigilon or Sony if they cut the price of a TVI camera from $20 to $10? Not much because it may be 50% off but it's still just ten bucks. Let them cut it to $5, does it matter anymore?

So why would they operate at a loss when (now) it gains them only minimally and drains them substantially?

Maybe the target is no longer Axis or Sony, but Hanwha and Vivotek? Yes, but Dahua as well. China's #1 enemy may be the U.S., but I would guess Hik's is Dahua. That's human nature.

But at the end of the day, they can't be operating in all or even several markets at a loss indefinitely, right?

Or where are they getting all the money to give away?

they can't be operating in all or even several markets at a loss indefinitely, right?

So far, overseas has been a fairly small operation relative for Hikvision. Even after the last several years of huge foreign growth, they still do not do even 30% of revenue from outside China so it may be several markets, but relatively small.

The profits from China are used to fund the expansion overseas. At some level, that's normal business. Establish territories or business generate free cash, that cash is used to launch new territories or business that lose cash at first but hopefully ultimately mature into profitable businesses of their own.

I do agree with you the problem becomes (1) the higher the proportion of overseas revenue gets and (2) the more difficult / restricted the historical free spending domestic infrastructure projects get.

IF I were the distributor, I would be concerned about the difference between my branded price and the OEM prices out there. To me, this seems to be how they are getting around their agreement to their unbranded OEMs that branded Hik products will be more expensive. My guess is they have a sale price exclusion or something similar.

Regardless, I wont buy the stuff at any price. Not because its chinese,we use chinese parts, but because of their history of being untrustable and eager to destroy anything and everything that gets in their way regardless of the commitments they have made. I have seen them screw distributors and OEM's before, Ive seen them take shortcuts in app development, etc, and in my opinion, theres nothing stopping them from screwing their dealers or integrators if they one day decide their path to continued growth is to begin installing around the globe. Ill atleast be glad I didnt help fund that when the day comes.

I think this is being orchestrated by ADI in attempt to gain share from other distributors. They found a willing vendor in Hik Vision that offered ADI such deep discounts. HIK will do whatever it takes to grow their volume. I once spoke to a HIK country manager who said he had instructions from China to win business at any price required. This is having major disruptions in the video surveillance industry.

So, nice work ADI!

I think this is being orchestrated by ADI in attempt to gain share from other distributors.

Tri-Ed has offered a number of the Hikvision across the board sales this year, though I do not believe this current one (members, please correct me if I am wrong).

That noted, having such big sales is certainly a boon for the distributor running it.

"That noted, having such big sales is certainly a boon for the distributor running it"

Would it at such decreased margin? Do distributors sometimes require a minimum amount in profit so that such deep price slashing does not seriously cut into the cost of handling and storing the product?

Would it at such decreased margin?

I do not know what ADI's margin is with these sales but knowing ADI, in general, they are not going to sacrifice profits for any manufacturer. ADI just has too many manufacturers to pick from to not make good money on any of these deals.

Good Article. I agree, Hikvision doesnt need to offer such frequent sales. People will buy hikvision at their already low price. Stop the madness and keep your profits at normal price. The typical ADI customer buys based on the jobs they sale, rather than stocking up a stockpile of products to be sold at a later date. So I dont think offering frequent sales will really push sales, especially to a company like ADI who sells to customers who simply purchase products based on the jobs they sale. I dont necessarily think this would encourage ADI to buy more products either. From what I understand, they dont stock a large amount of products at each branch and sometimes frequently have to get orders fulfilled from Hik's warehouse. So this was all Hik's move, not ADI's.

From what I understand, they dont stock a large amount of products at each branch

Our analysis of ADI's in-store stocks show Hikvision as being the top stocked video surveillance offering (whether you count just Hikvision branded and don't count the OEMed W-Box products).

I don't really see the problem here. HIKVision is aggressively trying to win market share by lowering prices. Mission accomplished. HIKVision's tech support is extremely good, their products have a very low failure rate, even their lowest price models have all the features you could ask for - SD card recording, Digital WDR, built-in DDNS, etc, and their return policy is excellent. In the case of ADI, you literally ship a camera back and ADI sends you a brand new one.

Maybe people out there are wary about the future. Maybe HIK will hook us all and then their tech support will get worse, products will get worse, prices will go up. Maybe. But until that happens, why wouldn't you deal with them now while they are excellent?

I don't agree with IPVM's assumption that they are destructive and losing money. If you can buy a Costco Q-See 16 camera kit with DVR for $499, then I'm pretty sure the manufacturer and the distributor are making money off 16 x $100 HIK cameras at $1600.

I do agree that HIK is going to bankrupt a lot of middle companies. Axis will stick around because they are the best, and we will always recommend them first, especially for clients where budget is not an issue. HIK and Dahua will fight for the low-end market and the companies in the middle we don't really care about ACTi, Vivotek, Panasonic are fine to disappear. Those middle companies can move up the ladder by innovating (not likely) or move down the ladder by price slashing. Seems like they're not doing either at the moment, so it's a matter of time before they're gone.

If you can buy a Costco Q-See 16 camera kit with DVR for $499, then I'm pretty sure the manufacturer and the distributor are making money off 16 x $100 HIK cameras at $1600.

That's a flawed comparison.

This kit is at Costco right now selling for $479:

A few things worth noting:

  • 720p analog HD is essentially being discontinued, so this is an end-of-life blowout price, which generally are not profitable sales.
  • Also, 720p HD analog Hikvision OEM cameras are being sold individually right now at Supercircuits for ~$17. Likely same reason, being discontinued.
  • $100 Hik cameras (factoring in this ~20% discount) are 1080p IP domes, which are significantly more expensive than 720p HD analog mini-bullets.

The other big difference in cost / profits is the sales and support structure that Hikvision has. Q-See has no field sales people or SEs, Hikvision, just in the US, has way over 100. And Hikvision markets at almost literally every event from huge booths at ISC West to tabletops at random small fairs throughout the continent. All of this adds to the cost.

You can't sell at consumer big box price points when you have a cost structure built for B2B.

Finally, from everything we hear about the Big Box OEMs / distributors, they are struggling to make money too, because of this downward spiral.

I disagree. The cost difference between a 720p camera image sensor and 1080p is pretty much zero.

Also, the difference between a Dome style body and Bullet style body is also not a factor. It's what, just plastic moulded in a slightly difference way? How would that affect cost?

There's no way $100 HIK 1080p dome are more expensive that 720p analog mini-bullets. We're talking pennies here.

HIK is making a profit on these. The only way they could be losing money is by having a huge support or sales force burden. But their products are so good, we barely need their support. Even for faulty product, we don't even involve HIK Tech support, we deal directly with ADI. We spend more time with Axis tech support than HIK and use 10x more HIK product than Axis. Also, sales force? Who needs salespeople when you have the best product at the lowest price? They sell themselves. Not to mention the legions of OEMs who put in more work selling HIK taking all the burden off HIK. (HIK tech support also doesn't support OEM HIK - a brilliant move by HIK)

There's no way $100 HIK 1080p dome are more expensive that 720p analog mini-bullets. We're talking pennies here.

Scott, you're wrong. And to be clear, I am comparing HIK 1080p IP cameras to 720p HD analog cameras. Perhaps you missed the IP vs analog part but it is not pennies.

Also, sales force? Who needs salespeople when you have the best product at the lowest price? They sell themselves.

This is just silly. Hikvision has a huge North American sales, marketing and support force. It's just fact. I totally believe that you do not need it but it's a big continent and Hikvision is spending massively on sales, marketing and support overall - covered here.

But until that happens, why wouldn't you deal with them now while they are excellent?

Scott, I think that's a reasonable point. As an integrator, especially for small to mid size businesses, and with competitors likely to do the same, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of what Hikvision is doing here.

At some level, this is a wealth transfer from the Chinese government to the American security integrator. I do not think it is feasible for it to last, but I do see why integrators would go for it.

ABSOLUTELY take advantage of it.... I just dont do it with Hikvision. At the end of the day, with high enough margin, $10 more for a camera isnt going to make a big difference... and I can sleep at night.

Fully agree tho, anyone not taking advantage of the price war is losing out on opportunity. We will see how long that lasts.

The problem is, no matter how strong your ideals, most companies are using HIK. If you want to compete, you cannot quote Axis or Panasonic - you must quote HIK.

Sure, when the Chinese gov (aka HIK) achieves 100% market share and flips the switch, they get to see everything - however the Japan gov is way ahead of them with Pokemon Go. Whoever owns/controls Snapchat can fill in the blanks. And the USA Gov is tapping it all anyways via NSA. We integrators are just out there trying to keep firmware up to date.

you think youre contradicting me but youre not.

There are other value priced chinese manufacturers with excellent quality.

One small point: Niantic, the company that developed Pokemon Go is based in San Francisco and was spun off of Google.

Ethan, that beard is ROCKIN! I had a glorious beard once. Then my kids learned to grab stuff.

At some level, this is a wealth transfer from the Chinese government to the American security integrator.

Ultimately, most of the wealth ends up in the pocketbook of the American citizen, as Hikua integrators are still competing against other Hikua integrators, keeping their margins within bounds. Yes/no?

Agreed! (aside from the coming casualties), now we need to let everyone else know that they dont need to limit themselves to 30% margins on this equipment to be considered a value.


Motion to make 'Hikua' an IPVM meme?

Motion to make 'Hikua' an IPVM meme?

Oh boy, 3 has been campaigning on that for months! He's secretly looking forward to the upcoming Hikvision / Dahua mega-merger that will mark the end of the industry.

If there was a mega-merger I prefer this logo.


Ultimately, most of the wealth ends up in the pocketbook of the American citizen, as Hikua integrators are still competing against other Hikua integrators, keeping their margins within bounds. Yes/no?

As our Axis, Avigilon and Hikvision Markups study showed, Hikvision integrators have so far made quite good margins. This may change as saturation increases but a lot of integrators (e.g. Marty Calhoun :) are taking this to the bank.

Thank you John, and I agree with your assessment 100%.

I agree as well, but pointing out that the same margins apply to other brands without the baggage.

Watching their tactics unveil has always been interesting since it is a chinese company and we can not view there sales. In regards to competition how can anyone compete with this? At least from what ive read and come to understand Hik spent to much money and needs to recooperate quick, however, doesn't this also destroy their own market? If not and Hik is able to drop its stock by 20% as they please, it seems they have at will power to absolutely eleminate the competition.

Hi John. Please help me to understand this. Isn't the bigger issue the trade agreement with China that makes it financially feasible for Chinese manufacturers to do this? I know that SIA has at least talked about trying to do something about what comes down to unfair trade facilitated by our government. Is there anything that we in the industry can do through our elected officials?

Yes. Thank you. Perhaps we are asking the same thing in different ways looking for the same outcome, in this case, the specific complaint about predatory pricing to spur some government action. I guess the real problem is that any attempt to have our government help us could be lengthy and ultimately futile based on their fear of the economic power of the Chinese government.

Down with Hikvision I would not purchase this product regardless of the price. Want to give it to me for free? No thanks. Just my 2 cents worth.

Just curious, how is Hikvision pricing comparing to, for instance Sony, in the US?

i had to replace a defective Sony Full HD bullet for a customer recently and offered two alternatives: the newer model of the same Sony and a comparable Hikvision (Darkfighter). The price difference to the customer was 20% and the customer chose to stick with Sony.

Are the price differences in the US much higher? Over here in Europe, i see this kind of price difference (20-30%) between brands like Axis, Sony etc and Hikvision-Dahua. That is, for camera's with more or less the same specs. There are a lot of cheaper options in Hik-Dahua but these have less functionality and no counter parts in the premium brands

Just curious, how is Hikvision pricing comparing to, for instance Sony, in the US?

Let's focus first on the entry level because that is where Hikvision dominates.

The SNCXM631 is listed as Sony's lowest cost / entry level dome. US online pricing for that camera is in the $270 - $300 range.

Hikvision's lowest cost 1080p IP dome is about half that price (under $150 even without special sales) and includes integrated IR.

Now, Sony may be better in some areas (maybe WDR) but that's a price gap that will motivate most smaller end users to go with Hikvision.

Wow, Just 2 days after the last one, Hikvision has another across the board sale at ADI.

This time, it is 10% with DW, FLIR and Speco all matching because, well, they almost have to at this point:

At some point doesn't 10% off just become the new standard price?

This line may be a clue as to who is responsible for the FLIR slashing, given the three suspects, the Manufacturer, the Disty or the OEM.

Based on the looks of the TCX line, I would say it is Mr. Dahua in the wiring closet with a crimp tool.

And now Tri-Ed has an across the board Hikvision sale:

Are you so sure that this is actually costing Hikvision money i.e. they are running at a loss.

I used to work for Hikvision in Australia and we could easily undercut any competitor and still make huge margins. Our day to day pricing was so competitive and we made very very healthy margins and our region was definitely not losing money. You would be surprised at how cheap the cameras are to make, and the fact that Hikvision are producing probably 5-6 times more cameras than their closest competitor it make the economies of scale so much better from a component and manufacturing cost perspective.

I would be very careful pushing the line that their overseas businesses are running at a loss. Typically their overseas sales prices are higher than their domestic sales and margins are strong across the board.

Why did you leave Hikvision considering there were huge margins and that it was soo easy to undercut any competitors? Seems like the dream sales job

Mainly because they started to get a bit greedy and I didn't like the direction they were taking. I was also away from home for around 150 nights last year which really impacted the kids. I have to say it also got a bit boring and I moved to an integrator. The solution sale is far more interesting than selling a commodity camera.

9, thanks for the feedback.

I agree with you that the prices and gross margins are likely higher, on average, overseas than in China. Of course, the difference is the cost structure for sales, marketing and support is way higher overseas than it is China. Hikvision both has far less scale and far higher per employee costs overseas.

Australia may very well be different than NA. We regularly hear from Australian integrators how much more expensive every surveillance product is in Australia than the US. I am not sure why but if that is true, it certainly helps all the manufacturers.

Prices are quite low in the US, and Hikvision's team in NA is fairly massive and extremely expensive. That's the combination I question.

I take your point John, our prices in Australia are higher than the U.S. Our distributors here would be making between 30 and 40 points on Hikvision as well so they support and push it hard because they can make good money doing so.

That said the costs of doing business in Australia are also very high particularly wages and rent. The average distribution sales rep will be earning between $75-$100K base salary, $15-$20k Car allowance and around 25% bonus. Really good integrator and manufacturer reps can earn a lot more than that. From what I have seen and read wages in Australia seem to be much higher than in the US???

We built Hikvision in Australia from a small player to number 1 in 2 years and all the while did it profitably. It remains to be seen I guess what they will do moving forward with the demand for growth being pushed from head office. They will also face increasing pressure from companies like UNV and Dahua as they start sorting themselves out.

From what I have seen and read wages in Australia seem to be much higher than in the US???

I don't know enough to compare Australia to US wages.

That said, those numbers you cite would be commonplace in the US for field sales people (an ADI branch counter person is obviously different). For the average Hikvision USA field sales person I would be shocked if they made less than $100K just because that market average in the US and Hikvision generally hires experienced security people with other job options available. And really good, not average, integrator and manufacturer sales people will commonly make $150 - $200k in the US. References: Manufacturer Sales Compensation 2016 Report, Integrator Compensation Report 2016

Another one:

wow, there really are not bounds to this...

its hard to take that "limited time" seriously...

its hard to take that "limited time" seriously.

No, they're serious, by next month it'l be 25%...

new strategy, sell the job now, but hik parts next month. Your margin just went up about 8 points!

Short-selling parts, good idea.

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