Aug 17, 2018Between May and July 2018, RFID Journal conducted a survey of its readers to determine how much they know about radio frequency identification solution providers and the products they offer. Our goal was to understand the state of the market and the familiarity of RFID technology buyers with the companies that sell RFID solutions. We wanted to answer two key questions:
• Which RFID solution providers are best known among RFID buyers and influencers?
• How well do RFID buyers know RFID companies and the products they offer?
These are important questions, as brand reputation has an impact on investment decisions. Our recently published 2018 RFID Brand Report reveals that more than 80 percent of respondents said brand is very or somewhat important to them when deciding what RFID solution providers to buy from. Systems integrators, who often recommend products to companies, said they were more concerned about brand—97 percent said it was either important or very important.
Zebra Technologies, Impinj and Avery Dennison were the top three brands, in that order. Impinj and Avery ranked third and fourth in our last branding survey, conducted in 2011. Zebra was eighth at the time, but it has since acquired Motorola's RFID business (see Zebra Buys Motorola Solutions' Enterprise Business), and Motorola was number-one back then.
For this branding study, we asked respondents to associate specific companies with particular product categories, in order to find out how well they know what products solution providers offer. The results were not encouraging.
The top bands are relatively well known. Avery Dennison was the best-known maker of chips and tags; 71 percent of respondents associated them with this product category. Impinj came in second with 62 percent, followed by Alien Technology at 58 percent and HID Global at 56 percent.
Overall, the top 13 companies had an average awareness among all respondents of 41 percent. RFID systems integrators, whose job it is to install products for different projects, had an average awareness of 56 percent (no surprise there). End users and buyers of RFID technology had an overall awareness of just 34 percent. To put that another way, an executive who is likely to buy an RFID system for his or her company knows about just four of the top 13 tag and chip providers.
Tag and reader providers were among the best-known companies, whereas other categories saw lower numbers. Fixed reader manufacturers had an overall awareness level of just 27 percent (23 percent among users and buyers). Handheld readers had an awareness level of 32 percent, with printer-encoders at 31 percent, systems integrators at 19 percent and software companies at just 14 percent.
This study was not scientific. We selected respondents who reflect the entire population of technology buyers around the world. Readers chose to respond or not, and our readership is obviously more knowledgeable about RFID solution providers and their products than the general business population.
Even among the end users who responded, we found they were more advanced than the average RFID Journal reader. Forty-three percent of end users said their company has already deployed an RFID solution, compared with just 18 percent in our last study. Thirty percent said they are running a pilot or plan to do so soon, compared with only 14 percent in 2011. It could be that those who don't know RFID brands chose to not to respond to the survey.
The low level of awareness of RFID brands beyond the top three or four, as well as what products they offer, means that the industry is wide open for new players who offer innovative RFID solutions and are willing to spend marketing dollars to promote those products. They would not be fighting against well-entrenched incumbents. It also means that existing RFID companies willing to invest more in marketing would be able to quickly increase their brand awareness and challenge some of the more established players.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.