Is Mass Marketing Killing the Industry?

There are some provocative comments in this month’s issue about mass-marketed systems. Are they a detriment or a boost to the industry?

One industry veteran, Tom Auth, former president, CEO and chairman of ITI, says, “Both.” Auth pinpoints subsidized alarm systems as the root cause of extreme price pressures on the manufacturers, distributors and dealers. That pressure has led to a soon-to-come “shakeout” of burg manufacturers.

Auth may be saying what a lot of other people are thinking, but don’t want to say aloud. His brave opinion is contrary to the fact that ITI’s supervised wireless systems probably opened up the mass-marketing concept to certain dealers that may have previously struggled to install more than one hardwired system per day.

This debate has been raging for years. In fact, Security Sales ran an editorial on mass marketing way back in May 1991, taking a negative stance on mass-marketed or subsidized systems. That stance generated more letters to the editor than any other item I can recall during the past 10 years.

Of course, the genie is out of the bottle. Because mass-marketed residential alarm systems are heavily advertised, they have been instrumental in boosting security system penetration to an estimated 20-percent level. Moreover, as Auth points out, mass marketing has forced manufacturers and dealers to be more competitive and innovative.

I don’t believe mass marketing is the primary cause of the burg market’s problems. The reason residential penetration lagged is because the delivery mechanism and/or the technology offered by burg systems was not attractive to homeowners. As evidence, look at how quickly CCTV and access control systems—with their easy-to-use interfaces—have penetrated commercial markets, growing by double digits each year. These systems are providing exactly what consumers want, while residential alarm systems still seem to miss the mark in terms of ease-of-use.

I isolate on the delayed entry/exit keypad as the real culprit behind slow residential growth. This cumbersome interface has intimidated homeowners for years, plus exacerbated the false alarm problem. Fortunately, we are seeing keyfobs already, and Palm Pilots soon, as the new user interface. The burg market is 60 years old, but trails other technologies in meeting consumers’ needs by light years. What do you think?

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters