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Brand Problems for RFID Vendors

Responses to an RFID Journal survey indicate that even the retailers most educated about RFID are unfamiliar with many solution providers.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 07, 2016

Last week, I wrote about the marketing choice RFID companies face: whether to focus on those interested in deploying radio frequency identification solutions or on the larger audience of businesses that have expressed no interest in RFID (see A Question of Life or Death for RFID Companies and More on the Question of Life and Death). This week, I'd like to share some data that suggests RFID companies are making the wrong choice.

In January 2016, RFID Journal sent out a survey to retailers and companies that manufacture apparel, sporting goods, jewelry and accessories, to learn what they know about the RFID providers focused primarily on the retail sector. We listed 40 RFID tag, reader and software companies.

The survey was unscientific: We received fewer than 50 responses. Those who responded do not reflect the global pool of retailers and manufacturers, but they are among the most knowledgeable when it comes to RFID. Fully 83 percent said they have been researching RFID for more than four years. Another 13 percent responded that they have been researching the technology for three to four years. Only 4 percent indicated they have been investigating RFID for less than a year. It's hard to imagine a more educated group.

We asked these retailers and manufacturers about the RFID solution providers with which they were familiar. The best-known providers were, in alphabetical order: Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, Checkpoint Systems, Impinj, Tyco Retail Solutions and Zebra Technologies. These companies were known by between 70 percent and 86 percent of the respondents, though some were confused about the products and services they offer.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the other 34 RFID providers on the list were known by fewer than half of the respondents. Ten companies were known to just 5 percent of respondents, and three were not known by any of them.

Think about that for a moment. All but a handful of RFID companies were known by fewer than half of the most knowledgeable group of RFID users and potential users in the retail sector. A quarter of the RFID companies focused on this sector were known by fewer than 5 percent of well-educated respondents. If you surveyed the average retailer who has not yet begun to seriously consider RFID, he or she would be unlikely to name any RFID companies.

Does that matter? You bet it does. Consider these facts from our survey:
• 96 percent of respondents said it was very important or somewhat important to consider an RFID company's brand when making an investment decision; only 4 percent said brand was not important.
• 83 percent of respondents said they determine the reputation of a company's brand by reading about it on RFID websites.
• 71 percent said that seeing companies exhibit at events is important.
• 38 percent said seeing a solution providers' ads influenced their view of the company's brand.
• No respondents said having a high ranking in Google's search results was important.

When asked how they find appropriate solution providers, 71 percent of respondents said they visit RFID Journal's website, compared with 12 percent who go to other RFID sites (no surprise there, since they are our readers). Roughly 60 percent said they go to RFID industry events to find solution providers. Only 8 percent said they use social media.

How can companies invest in your RFID solution if they don't know who you are?

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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