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

Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...
FLIR Is Giving Away $3,000 Demo Kits on May 17, 2017
Everybody likes free stuff, and FLIR is using that concept to attract dealers by giving them $3,000 worth of demo gear for attending a...
ADI's 'Elves' Selling Direct on Amazon on May 15, 2017
Buy from Amazon, get delivery from ADI. What? Recently, we bought a part from Amazon and the shipment came from ADI. We dug into the...
Selling and Valuing Security Integrators on May 12, 2017
This ia a tutorial in how to (1) determine your security integrator's value and (2) to sell your security integrator. If you own an integrator,...
Hanwha 9MP Fisheye Camera Tested (PNF-9010R) on May 09, 2017
12MP sensor fisheye panoramic cameras are becoming increasingly common. We have tested Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F as well as Panasonic's SFV481 4K...
Kedacom Targeting Hikvision, Dahua Entering US on May 03, 2017
A publicly traded company with a $1 billion dollar market cap is directly aiming for Hikvision and Dahua. Kedacom, listed on the Shanghai stock...
US Air Force Cancels Hikvision RFQ on May 01, 2017
The US Air Force has cancelled an RFQ for Hikvision video surveillance, following IPVM notifying the Air Force that Hikvision products are made in...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Aura's 'Invisible Ripple' Next Gen Intrusion Detection Tested on May 22, 2017
Aura Home is a startup intrusion detection system, but it claims new, high-tech sensing that monitors the 'invisible ripples' movement creates,...
Pelco Shutting Down Clovis Line, Laying Off 200 on May 22, 2017
Pelco's Clovis facility once turned out some of the industry's most popular products. Now, the facility is mostly building "obsolete" equipment,...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 19, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...

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