Last month's ISC West was the best ISC show that I've seen in years. It was impossible to get through the crowds waiting to enter the show hall first thing in the morning and aisles were packed and booths were filled throughout the show. You had to wait to see sales people to get your questions answered and even on day three, which is affectionately known as vendor day, when traffic is slow enough for the vendors to get out and look at what new offering their competitors have; it was still pretty busy! Many vendors said they never left their booth all day- every day- as they just couldn't!
It seemed like the recession was over and consumer demand was at a frenzied pace! Yet there's still little recovery in the construction market commercially and residentially and a fair part of our industry's growth is tied to new construction. And when we talk to you, the selling community, most folks say it's better but still slow and a very competitive landscape.
Feeding the need to shop?
You can only hold a consuming culture back from consuming for so long. And in the U.S. we are avid buyers, debatably some of the best in the world. And perhaps some folks came to feed their need to shop? It's been years now since we've consumed and psychologically it's difficult for all of us to change or dismiss the gratification derived from buying things that we like and we like security and we want to buy and sell products.
But during these none-buying years, security directors, security managers and residential security buyers have had time to think about their needs or desires and they've prioritized what is most important to them, what they can't do without and what they are or are not willing to spend their hard-earned cash on.
My instincts are that our community came out to ISC in droves in order to see what types of new products they could bring back home that would give them a competitive edge in their markets going forward. It's not easy to get buyers to part with their cash and thus a little sizzle, more functionality, solutions that can be easily upgraded, products with a longer shelf life and/or new feature sets can make the difference between having a buyer holding onto that cash or loosening their fingers. Buyers want or even expect more for their money after years of special pricing and on sale products and if the offering you have doesn't have more sizzle, then they want it for practically free! That doesn't work on the profit and loss side. And on the commercial side security directors have to report why they will invest in any products and talk up the value it's going to bring their organization in order to get approval to spend.
Everywhere you turned at ISC you saw products upgraded and improved. And although in some cases the products were not rivetingly different than what they were before, they were more user-friendly, more attractive or less intrusive once installed, easier to install, more compatible with other brands that increased their feature sets and of course there were new products that bring the industry to new heights as well.
Regardless if there has been a full recovery or not, consumer confidence and the belief that we can grow again was clearly evident at ISC West this year. There was enthusiasm, passion, a competitive spirit, the will and the drive to move forward again. The hopelessness and the fears that had consumed all of us the last few years seem to have evaporated and to be quite honest these were some of our largest barriers to success moving forward. So embrace this enthusiasm and get out there with your own competitive suite of products. Let's shoot to close 2011 in the spirit we are all used to with solid growth from confidently explaining to your customers why they need to invest in your security solutions.