Supplier Competition in the North American Plug-in Surge Suppressor Market

4/15/2003 - Over the past several years, significant changes have occurred in market share among the top suppliers of plug-in power line surge suppressors to the North American market. According to recent analysis by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), this market averaged 5% growth over the last two years, despite a difficult 2001. Leading suppliers have recognized this growth and are implementing strategies to increase their market share.

Significant changes in market share have occurred over the past two years. The primary driver of these changes has been the winning of channel accounts. Belkin, for example, has successfully focused on winning retail accounts in the hardware/home center channel over the last few years. Belkin has emerged as the leading plug-in surge suppressor vendor to the North American market.

Also emerging as a top player in the industry is UPS specialist American Power Conversion (APC). APC has leveraged its strong relationships in the distribution channel, developed through its UPS business, to make the company a leading surge suppressor vendor. Both APC and Belkin have developed products with distinctive designs and packaging rather than simply slapping their name on a generic private label product. This - coupled with their relative strength in their respective primary channels - has resulted in significant market share gains over the past few years.

The plug-in surge suppressor market shows signs of becoming very much like a commodity business. There are few barriers to entry, and the competition for shelf space is intense, and growing more so every year. There has been a relatively slow trend towards consolidation in the industry, one that is not expected to increase rapidly in the near future. Such an intense business environment is increasingly forcing vendors to look for, and exploit, means by which they can gain a competitive advantage. Because end users still find it difficult to understand surge suppressor specifications and technical capabilities, enabling them to make better "apples to apples" product comparisons, vendors are vying to gain greater market share through greater "mind awareness."

Most vendors are making larger investments in advertising, marketing, and promotional activities, which aid in capturing the hearts and minds of the customers. Companies such as Belkin, APC and others have done well by fighting the commodization trend through distinctive and consistent product designs, product colors, and package graphics - not to mention high quality products. Factors such as brand name recognition, innovative packaging concepts, and value-added product features are believed to be crucial in enabling vendors to shape the purchasing decisions of end users that are, despite growing awareness, still uneducated on the needs for, and benefits of, surge protection.

Given the increasing levels of intense competition over price, shelf space, and other critical issues, it seems likely that there will be growing consolidation among manufacturers of plug-in surge suppressor products over the next three to five years. Some recent competitive changes include:

About the Study
The report, "The 2002 Power Protection Market Intelligence Program: Volume IX & X North America & Europe Power Line Surge Suppressors," is a multiclient study designed to provide subscribers with relevant and up-to-date market intelligence to support strategic marketing and product planning decisions. This report includes:

Venture Development Corporation, a technology market research and strategy firm, was founded in 1971 by graduates of Harvard Business School and MIT. Over the years, VDC has developed and fine-tuned a unique and highly successful methodology for forecasting and analyzing dynamic technology markets. VDC has extensive experience in providing analysis in electronic components markets. This includes multiclient and custom consulting engagements in a broad spectrum of related topics including switching power supplies, uninterruptible power supplies, fuel cells, static transfer switches, and others.

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