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

ASIS Dumps 'ASIS' For Show on Dec 06, 2017
After 60+ years, ASIS is dumping its eponymous show name and replacing it with 'GSX'. This is a classic marketing mistake. For a show struggling...
D-Link ONVIF Switch Tested on Dec 04, 2017
D-Link's surveillance switches claim to "enhance ease of use and streamline management" for network administrators, with simplified UIs and...
Top Recommended Home Video Surveillance Systems By Integrators on Dec 01, 2017
Friends regularly ask security integrators for their recommendations for video surveillance systems, trying to tap into the expertise of their...
Hikvision Door Station Tested on Nov 30, 2017
Hikvision has entered the video intercom market, aiming to bring the race to the bottom to a whole new audience. To see how it stacks up, we...
Hikvision Vulnerability Permits Wi-Fi Attack on Nov 28, 2017
Hikvision acknowledged a Wi-Fi cyber security vulnerability on November 27, 2017. No special passwords, text strings, or programming...
The Race To The Bottom Is Over on Nov 28, 2017
The race to the bottom in video surveillance is over. After 3 years of aggressive price cuts and heavy sales and marketing expenditures, the...
IndigoVision's CEO Out / Ex-Avigilon Exec In on Nov 27, 2017
After 6 years as CEO of IndigoVision Marcus Kneen has abruptly resigned, with the board nominating Pedro Simoes, IndigoVision's recently hired SVP...
Camera Multi-Streaming Usage on Nov 22, 2017
IP cameras typically support multiple streams, allowing a single camera to transmit multiple streams at different resolutions, frame rates and even...
Law Breaking Longse Enters USA on Nov 22, 2017
Longse has established itself as world class, at least in spamming the industry, ripping off Milestone and Video Insight as well as Hikvision. But...
Panasonic Unified Surveillance Strategy Analyzed on Nov 17, 2017
Panasonic is now a "Unified Surveillance" offering, as their ASIS 2017 booth proclaimed: Looking to make a comeback in the security industry,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference Review on Dec 08, 2017
Investment bank Imperial Capital holds an annual Security Investor Conference where 60+ companies present, including this year: IPVM bought a...
Integrator GPS Vehicle Tracking Statistics and Success Examined on Dec 08, 2017
GPS vehicle tracking is a growing but somewhat controversial topic. On the plus side, tracking may increases productivity by providing greater...
Hikvision NA Biggest Sale of 2017 on Dec 07, 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...
Security Integrator IT Expertise Statistics on Dec 07, 2017
20 years ago, putting physical security systems on IP networks was just emerging. Today, almost every system is networked in some way, IP cameras...
Lighthouse Deep Learning Camera Tested on Dec 07, 2017
A Silicon Valley startup, Lighthouse, with a Stanford PhD CTO, has released a deep learning AI camera with 3D sensors for just $300. The company...
Access Control Course Winter 2018 on Dec 07, 2017
Learn more below about the Winter 2018 IPVM Access Control Course. Register here. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in...
Broken Hikvision App Exposes Hypocrisy on Dec 06, 2017
While Hikvision talks about a commitment to cybersecurity, their broken app and their insecure 'solution' exposes not only their engineering...
'Catastrophic Problem' For Videofied App on Dec 06, 2017
Less than 2 months after closing their DIY division DragonFly, Videofied has been hit with a problem the company calls 'catastrophic'. Now the...
ASIS Dumps 'ASIS' For Show on Dec 06, 2017
After 60+ years, ASIS is dumping its eponymous show name and replacing it with 'GSX'. This is a classic marketing mistake. For a show struggling...
Risks Of Managing End User Passwords (Statistics) on Dec 05, 2017
Integrators know admin passwords for nearly all end-user systems, according to IPVM statistics. But how do they manage them? How do they ensure...

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