Manufacturer Sales Pitches Revealed

Author: John Honovich, Published on Dec 02, 2014

IPVM sent a 'secret shopper' to ISC East 2014 to talk to manufacturer sales reps at their booths. We wanted to understand and contrast how they pitched to a prototypical end user.

Would they follow the stock company line? Would they go off script? Would they attack their competitors? How would they make the case of why to choose them?

4 Questions Asked

Our secret shopper explained that they were looking for a ~20 camera system.

Each manufacturer was then asked the same 4 fundamental questions:

  • "What's the 3 biggest reasons to choose your company?" - Goal: to see what they emphasized as competitive differentiation.
  • "My boss has suggested buying a kit online. What do you provide that they don't?" - Goal: to determine how they positioned themselves against low-cost commodity offerings.
  • "Someone on the floor told me about this company named Hikvision. What do you think of them? How do you compare?" - Goal: to understand how manufacturers are dealing with the growing presence of Chinese manufacturers.
  • "Where do you recommend I buy your products? Can I get them off Google shopping?" - Goal: to see how much (or little) manufacturers supported the traditional integrator channel.

Manufacturers Covered

We 'secret shopped' 12 manufacturers including:

  • Avigilon
  • Axis
  • Bosch
  • Canon
  • Exacq
  • Genetec
  • Milestone
  • Mobotix
  • Vivotek
  • Panasonic
  • Pelco
  • Samsung
  • Sony

Note: Acti, Arecont and Hikvision did not have booths at ISC East 2014 and, therefore, were not included.

Key Excerpts

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

We received many fascinating responses. Here are a few of the most intriguing:

  • "They all suck."
  • "The Cadillac of IP Cameras"
  • "The most intelligent product"
  • "The premier camera company ever."
  • "Most user friendly on the market."
  • "Best image on the market."
  • "[Our company name] is like saying Jello'"
  • "They don't take cybersecurity seriously."
  • "They are full of malware."
  • "The Apple of IP solutions, others follow."

Universal Defense of Channel

The one area where all manufacturers questioned agreed upon was going through the channel / integrators. Despite our shopper saying that they were an end user and asking specifically about buying online, every manufacturer advised buying through an integrator. Even more surprisingly, and obviously incorrectly, Axis' rep claimed that users 'can't buy' their products, and Bosch's rep said theirs are 'not available online."

More Aggressive Than Company Marketing

Most reps were notably more aggressive than their company marketing material. For example, Pelco saying that they are "The premier camera company ever", Panasonic that they were "The Cadillac of IP Cameras", and Axis boasted that they are "The Apple of IP solutions, others follow."

Nonetheless, Avigilon beat them all with their matter of fact response to our question about competitors.

Avigilon

"They all suck" - Avigilon rep's blunt assessment of his competitors.

Avigilon's rep was confident and technical, though monotone.

The core pitch centered around them 'doing everything' (i.e., end to end solution) and having 'the largest range of MP cameras'. The third element was analytics / intelligence. For our secret shopper, Avigilon emphasized using the microdome.

When asked about Hikvision, the Avigilon rep was taken aback, retorting that 'they [Avigilon] make higher quality', calling out their 1 to 29MP offerings.

Axis

The Axis rep focused on their positioning in the industry, claiming that they were the 'leaders of the industry, that they were the 'Apple of IP solutions' whom 'others follow', and that they invented the IP camera.

The other core pitch was their openness, emphasizing their open architecture and development partners, emphasizing that 'most are closed.'

Regarding Hikvision, the Axis rep said that Hikvision is 'swamping the industry' but that Hikvision's quality is 'no comparison' to them. The Axis rep acknowledged that are 'not as low [priced] as others' but argued that they backed it up with quality and support.

The strangest claims from Axis was on sales. The rep emphasized that they 'don't sell direct', which is technically true since Axis only sells to a limited number of distributors but misleading since they re-sell to anyone. The real head-scratcher was the Axis rep contention that 'users can't buy', that they have to go through integrators and partners. While partners surely appreciate such support, this is simply not correct, as end users can buy through a vast array of online resellers.

Bosch

Outside of generic claims of quality, Bosch's rep emphasized their direct to storage approach, which he claimed 'eliminated the NVR' and was 'unique in the industry'. While Bosch's direct to ISCI aspect is rare, it is limited to Bosch's own products and has never really taken off.

When asked about Hikvision, the Bosch rep smirked, saying that Hikvision was 'just a camera' contrasting it to built-in analytics and storage in Bosch's cameras.

Finally, the Bosch rep said that their cameras are not available online, which is, of course, not true.

Canon

Now that Canon owns Milestone, would this change Canon's pitch?

No. The Canon rep did not bring up Milestone ownership at all, only mentioning Milestone as part of a list of VMSes that are partners with them (also mentioning Genetec). Indeed, for our secret shopper's application, they recommended going to Digital Watchdog.

Canon's rep said that Hikvision was for 'basic systems', emphasizing Canon's support, relationships, and warranty.

Exacq

Exacq focused on usability, touting that they were the 'most user friendly on the market' and that anyone could be comfortable using the system.

Genetec

Genetec focused on 'unification', emphasizing 'one interface', a 'single pane of glass' that can manage video, access and LPR all in one. 

Beyond that he emphasized scalability and reliability, noting that they go from 2 camera to 200,000 camera systems.

Milestone

Milestone's rep not only proclaimed them 'open platform' but also, amazingly and incorrectly, 'open source'.

Despite being owned by a camera manufacturer, the Milestone rep was sticking hard to 'openness'. Also, the rep cited 4,000+ cameras supported and ONVIF conformance as well.

Another claim was being the "#1 global leader brand out there.' Presumably, this relates to IMS rankings of only software providers (See: Genetec / Milestone VMS Ranking Distortion).

Interestingly, despite our shopper being on the lookout for a 20 camera system, the Milestone rep did not pitch Milestone's new Husky NVR/ DVRs. Instead, the rep emphasized them being software and having 'all hardware options' open.

Mobotix

The Mobotix rep lead with being:

  • "The most intelligent" / 'PC built into the camera"
  • "Made in Germany" (Note: Is this really convincing for US camera buyers? This is not a car.)
  • 360 cameras that can replace 4 analog cameras

In comparison to kits, Mobotix emphasized their longevity and reliability claiming a 9 year average device life.

Compared to Hikvision, Mobotix said Hikvision was better than kits (weird, since many kits re-brand Hikvision) but not as good as Mobotix. In particular, Mobotix emphasized higher resolution than Hikvision, ability to trigger lights and lower power consumption.

Panasonic

The Panasonic rep focused on image quality, boasting that they were "The Cadillac of IP Cameras" and saying that was what 'set them apart from Samsung and Axis'. The rep also noted that new models were coming out.

For Hikvision, the Panasonic rep claimed that 'they were full of malware' and incorrectly thought that Hikvision was from South Korea.

Pelco

Pelco's rep hammered home their brand name, ironic given that our shopper did not know whom Pelco was going in.

The Pelco rep enthusiastically emphasized that, Pelco was "the premier camera company ever', and that 'Pelco was like saying Jello'.

As for Hikvision, Pelco emphasized being from California / the US and that Hikvision was 'not in the same field'.

Samsung

[Note this interview occurred before Samsung surveillance was sold off.]

The Samsung rep lead with their IP cameras using their own developed chip (WiseNet III), claiming that 'all others buy theirs'.

The rep said that Samsung was a 'great product at a great price' emphasizing the overall affordability of their offering. However, the rep also claimed less than a 0.1% failure rate.

As for Hikvision, the Samsung rep said that Hikvision 'does not take cybersecurity seriously' and that Hikvision IP cameras can be hacked. In addition, Hikvision was selling on 'low price, not quality.'

Sony

Sony's rep emphasized that they had 'the best image on the market', claiming that they 'own the broadcast market' and that 'everyone is using a Sony chip'

In particular, Sony emphasized their WDR capabilities, their 'less than 1% failure rate' and that they, unlike kits or low cost providers, 'will still be around' in the long term.

Vivotek

Vivotek's rep lead with:

  • Manufacturing their own product
  • Large feature set + range from low to high resolution
  • 'No compatibility issues', flexible support from third party recording platforms

For kits, emphasized varifocal and fisheye / panoramic as differentiators.

Finally, for Hikvision, the Vivotek rep hesitated but then declared, "We don't compete with them. They are made in China. We are from Taiwan." Though that might be a justification in Taiwan (versus China), it is not a compelling counter for most buyers.

4 reports cite this report:

Manufacturers Don't Want to 'Bad Mouth' The Competion on Apr 28, 2016
Sure, you do not want to be the like the Avigilon sales guy who said all his competitors 'suck'.  Not convincing and you look bad. However, that...
Manufacturers: Get Paying or Get Sued - Avigilon Patent Licensing Program on Jul 29, 2015
The new Avigilon 'patent licensing program' is starting to roll out, confirmed Avigilon's CEO on today's earnings call. This is just a month after...
The Hikvision Hacking Scandal on Mar 03, 2015
What was once just warnings and consumer concerns has exploded into a major problem for Hikvision. A Chinese province's Hikvision devices have...
#1 Threat 2015 - China on Jan 07, 2015
Over 125 manufacturers shared with IPVM their outlook for 2015. We asked them: "Positive / Negative: Is your outlook for the 2015 video...
Comments (24): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Intel Flaw Impact on VMS / NVRs Examined on Jan 05, 2018
A flaw has been found in Intel processors that exposes protected memory to unauthorized access. The flaw requires fundamental changes to operating...
Multicasting Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 04, 2018
Network bandwidth can be a concern for some surveillance systems. While improvements in video codecs, such as smart codecs for H.264 and H.265,...
Hikvision NA Biggest Sale of 2017 (Twice) on Dec 28, 2017
Hikvision North America has been relatively disciplined the past 5 months, reducing the number of sales and the breadth of what is on sale. No...
Strong Outlook For 2018 on Dec 27, 2017
Integrators entered 2017 with a positive outlook on the industry. During 2017 we saw the race to the bottom hit bottom, cyber security...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Guide on Dec 22, 2017
Multi-imager usage has been growing strongly over the past few years. Now, a new segment of multi-imagers has taken off, with many manufacturers...
Eagle Eye Investor Pitch Analyzed on Dec 20, 2017
Eagle Eye CEO Dean Drako presented an investor-oriented corporate pitch at the 2017 Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference, highlighting...
2018 Top Sales Interest For Integrators on Dec 20, 2017
130+ integrators answered: This is a key question, especially for manufacturers, as it impacts what areas to focus more on and what...

Most Recent Industry Reports

This High Schooler Is Excited About His Future Security Career on Jan 15, 2018
A common lament is that smart, young people have little interest in surveillance systems. In fact, discussions like Should Talented Young People...
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...
Amazon Deep Learning Partnership With AgentVi on Jan 15, 2018
Amazon is aiming to grow its Kinesis Video Streams offering that "enables you to quickly build computer vision and ML applications" in the cloud....
Winter 2018 Camera Course Registration on Jan 14, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times - 'day' and...
Hikvision Removed From US Army Base, Congressional Hearing Called on Jan 12, 2018
Hikvision has been removed from a US Army Base and a US congressional committee is planning a hearing on cybersecurity risks and specifically,...
CES 2018 Show Final Report on Jan 12, 2018
This is IPVM's final edition of our 2018 CES show report. Below are already numerous images and commentary, with more coming tomorrow.   CES is...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Security Integrator Project Management Certifications on Jan 10, 2018
Certifications are a common option for technology professionals looking to improve skills and gain validation. But how about for project...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision Declares 'Never Click On Links In Emails' on Jan 09, 2018
Hikvision is stepping up its cybersecurity efforts with a clear recommendation - to never click on links in emails: It is a surprising change...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact