LIFE SCIENCES – Pay for the Optics NOT the Brand Name
For the past sixteen years, we have witnessed Zeiss, Nikon, Olympus and Leica lose market share as they build beautiful microscopes with glorious optics….. but which few customers can afford. The belief in their brand has, perhaps, created a level of arrogance towards the customer that is more typical of post war manufacturers in the 20th century than 2015. Marvelous microscopes, built by Life Science specialists, but for a limited market. Unsurprisingly, these companies have experienced a degree of turmoil both in their management, manufacturing and distribution models with almost all succumbing to manufacturing in China.
At the same time, the internet has grown to occupy a core part of end user sales. As with all internet sales, the inexorable result has been greater transparency, improved customer knowledge and lower prices. Customers now understand that low prices no longer equal low quality. They understand that the big brand names are simply not necessary for their daily microscopy applications anymore than a Ferrari is needed to drive to work. Nice to have, yes, but not necessary and beyond most customers’ budgets. This change is customer behavior has occurred over the past five years or so. Previously, if we lowered the price on a given microscope, sales would drop. Customers were concerned they were buying low quality. No longer. Amazon has helped. Five years ago, Amazon had minimal sales of microscopes. It is a now a major product segment.
As a result, several lesser known manufacturers who still distribute via traditional resellers will likely go out of business. Their selling proposition is just no longer valid since they offer no better optics than online microscope vendors yet, due to their distribution model, prices are inevitably higher. No amount of fancy industrial design will disguise the similarity in optical quality.
In spite of the above and extraordinary though it may seem, the ‘Big 4’ appear to continue to scoff at internet sales as being for ‘low-end’ microscopes. For example, a customer cannot even see the price of a Zeiss microscope on the Zeiss website unless actually logged on – a 101 internet failing that is akin to stating “No sales, please!” Olympus and Nikon have almost zero online presence and only recently (after persistent emails and calls), did Leica’s VP Sales deign to respond to our approach to become a reseller. His email was somewhat dismissive. Given few of them have any traditional dealers left to protect, their strategy is puzzling.
None of them appear to have studied the Honda business school case study. In summary, Honda entered the US market with a big bike that failed on quality, but a small ‘low-end’ 50cc Supercub was a smash hit, from which foundation Honda went on to achieve 65% of the US market for motorbikes. Humility paid a significant role in their success in enabling them to switch from their original approved, high end strategy. The analogy is not precise but it holds in microscopy. Zeiss, Nikon, Olympus and Leica have already discarded the majority of the market for microscopes. Shortly, they are likely to be squeezed in the more demanding Life Sciences segment that currently, they still dominate.
In the same way that Honda used its success in low end products to work up into higher end bikes, so the trend that drove the Big 4 out of (what they perceive as), the low end of the market is working its way upwards into increasingly more demanding microscopy applications. First to establish the trend was the Consumer. Next schools, colleges and industrial customers, all of whom are increasingly content with standard Chinese optics. Now, at Microscope.com, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for higher quality microscopes from Life Science customers. We are also seeing customers willing to place significantly larger, online orders than before magnitude without any prior contact with us. Think five figures. These are traditional Big 4 customers looking for better value solutions online. They are prepared to pay for good quality optics, but have growing resistance to the accompanying price tags. They understand that online service can be equal if not better to traditional microscope dealers, many of whom are somewhat long in the tooth and/or Mom and Pop shops. They increasingly understand that they do not need an expensive sales engineer to come and set up their microscopes on site…and so on.
The net result? Competition!
Enter Euromex Microscopes. Designed and built in Holland, Euromex have deliberately built competing microscopes that combine superb optics with low prices, up to 60% cheaper than competing products from the Big 4. In other words, customers pay for the oiptics NOT for the brand name. This is precisely the value equation that Microscope.com has championed for the past sixteen years. “Comparable optics, lower prices” and we are delighted to welcome them to the US as their exclusive online distributor. Stunning optics, thoughtful European design, lower prices. It is no wonder that since its founding in 1966, Euromex has become one of the most popular microscope brands in Europe and with a growing presence in Asia and South America.
Good design, common sense and humility go a long way. It’s a shame it’s taken such a long time for this combination to arrive in the US Life Science microscopy market.
Euromex Microscopes will be on sale at Microscope.com in October 2015. Call us toll free on 877-409-3556 to find out more.