LED buyers tell us what they prioritise when investing in new tech

The results of our 2022 LED display survey are in, with buyers overwhelmingly turning to well-supported products that offer good-value and failure-free, long-life installation.

The fast-paced LED display market is propelled forward with continual technology development on one side, and ever more creative ways of deploying it on the other. Inavate wanted to take stock of installer attitudes to technology in this quick moving sector and in February and March 2022 canvassed opinion of 345 AV professionals that either had bought and/or specified, or were planning to buy and/or specify, direct view LED displays this year.   

LED is tipped for growth across all regions. With cash being poured into research and development, displays are getting brighter, pixel pitches are getting smaller, they’re becoming lighter, more robust and easier to install, and they are using less energy. At the same time the cost of LED is coming down. This means LED is becoming more attractive for a wider array of projects.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has left no market untouched, and assumptions made prior to 2020, almost certainly don’t hold true now. Many industries ground to a halt as the virus forced global lockdowns, while a few became vital in the changed landscape. While some sectors were mortally wounded, others bounced back with a ferocity that took everyone by surprise. Now, as the world gets back on its feet, technology suppliers are plagued by a lack of components, shipping delays and skill shortages. It’s a good time therefore to take stock of the confidence in the market, as well as what buyers and specifiers are looking for in LED display technology.

Before we get into that, here’s a little insight into the professionals we canvassed to get our data. Nearly half of them described themselves as integrators, with the rest (in almost equal measures) were consultants, end users and distributors. More than three quarters of them worked in the corporate sector and more than half worked in government and retail. There were also healthy portions working in education, large venues and visitor attraction/experiential economy (44%, 45% and 42% respectively). Most of our respondents (67%) lived in Europe.  

Our respondents were generally optimistic about the market outlook; 124 of them expected AV budgets in 2022 to increase by up to 20% when compared to 2021 budgets, 93 expected increases of more than 20%. Eighty-three people expected no change, leaving 45 expecting a reduction in spend and around half of those expected a decrease of more than 20%.

In the last two years 165 of our respondents had deployed LED projects that exceeded £500k (approximately €600k). Ninety-three of those had projects exceeding £1 million. Almost all our respondents had installed indoor LED (88%), but their expertise covered outdoor LED installations as well as temporary/rental projects.

Olexandr Taranukhin/Shutterstock.com

By a large margin, the highest priority for our survey group when selecting an LED manufacturer was reliability. With brand reputation and length of warranty coming joint second, it’s really clear that installers want to trust the manufacturer and the product, and want to be protected against failure. It’s an assertion backed up by the fact that 60% of respondents wouldn’t accept any level of pixel failure before calling on a repair under warranty. In a blow for environmental consideration, power consumption ranked in last place of 11 priorities.

We also put eleven features and functions to our survey respondents, asking them which three were most important in their decision process when choosing a product. Most people ranked ‘robust’ as their number one feature. However, when the scores of top three considerations were taken into account, cost-effectiveness and colour performance scored joint first, closely followed by long product lifecycle.

Deep blacks and rear and front service garnered a healthy response, while contrast ratio, power consumption and heat dissipation scored quite low. At the bottom of the list was ease of cleaning that ranked just higher than weight, a factor not prioritised by any of our respondents.

The research shows buyers and specifiers of LED display products want products they can trust. In a market that contains products of such varying price and quality, it’s interesting to see our respondents overwhelmingly indicating they value reliable and well-supported technology.

Another interesting takeaway is that some of the factors that might be assumed to be important considerations in the current climate, didn’t rank highly in affecting buyers’ purchasing decisions. LED displays are energy hungry and vendors are working to reduce power consumption. As energy prices continue to rise, running costs are set to rocket if more efficient technologies are not developed. Right now however, it doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Supply chain issues have also forced many AV integrators to adapt, often using technologies they wouldn’t normally have chosen simply because they’re available. But product lead times and availability ranked low in the list of considerations that were important in choosing a supplier.

It paints a picture of a discerning, brand-loyal pool of buyers, but there are also indications that these buyers aren’t always considering some of the factors that might be important to the display owners and operators.

Top image credit: zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com

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