Analysis: Netherlands installed AV market survey

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Our latest survey finds the Dutch installation industry facing some familiar issues, but with a strong measure of confidence.

Confidence within the Dutch installed AV industry is running high, according to our latest survey. More than half of respondents believed general confidence levels within the sector are higher than six months ago, with the majority of the remainder reckoning they are unchanged. When it comes to their own businesses, it’s a similar picture: around half expect their revenues to increase by more than 5% over the next 12 months, with most of the others predicting a smaller increase.

When it came to whether the number of players in the market was increasing or decreasing, there was a mix of views. The majority felt the number was going up, for various reasons: experienced professionals getting laid off and setting up their own companies; rental and production companies, and even building contractors, going after AV business; and because AV work is widening in scope by being used increasingly in communications. However, some felt that the number of companies was shrinking because traditional AV companies not getting into IT are falling by the wayside.

Some of these trends were also evident when we asked respondents to the business issue that caused them the most concern. The second most popular answer was ‘poorly qualified newcomers distorting the market’. As one distributor commented: “Many newcomers just compete at pricing, but not at knowledge. They win a bid and make a mess for someone else to clean up. This is also a result of the fact that many manufacturers or distributors have hardly any restrictions anymore to sell to anybody, as a result of the financial crisis.”

Concern over these new market entrants was a few percentage points behind what is frequently the leading concern identified by our surveys, ‘clients going for lowest price rather than best value’. “A lot of clients still think that everything is possible for a low price,” observed an integrator. “It feels like some sort of heritage from the [financial] crisis… Some clients easily turn to the internet or web-shops, but come to us for good, complete advice.”

Looking at specific market sectors, the usual triumvirate of education, corporate and digital signage is ruling the roost, while retail and worship were felt to be the poorest performers.

We received a wide range of suggestions of things about the industry that our survey would like to change. They included better collaboration between companies on projects; making architects and IT managers more aware of the capabilities of AV integrators; making manufacturers more selective about the companies they sell to; and working on a less local or regional basis.