For this year’s awards, more than 650 different companies were nominated in 20 different categories and 45 achieved the coveted status of Finalist. While only 20 individual companies were named Winners, the record number of Finalists only serves to emphasize the significance of this year’s LSIA theme of “Look Beneath the Surface.”  While scientists have hundreds of life science suppliers from which to chose, only a small fraction constituted the core group of companies that defined the upper echelon in terms of products, support, and services. I would like to take the opportunity to recognize some of these Finalists from this year’s awards. These companies have excelled in one or more areas that are critical to their customers and are examples of how different visions or approaches can be successful in this industry.

Strong Competitors Narrow the Playing Field
The Cell Biology Instruments—Microscope-Based category is an example of similar ratings between Finalists across the four customer touch points that comprised the LSIA Customer Value Score (CVS), a measure that our company customized to assess loyalty to a particular supplier: customer satisfaction, product relevance, repurchasing intention, and willingness to recommend. These findings suggest that because brand perceptions are quite favorable across these suppliers (i.e., BD Biosciences, Carl Zeiss, Leica Microsystems, Nikon, and Olympus), differentiation in this market is more about a scientist’s complete experience with the brand. This experience includes not only outstanding product features, but also services that span everything from pre-sales to sales to post-sales support. In this category, Carl Zeiss’ win was clinched by obtaining the largest number of nominations. While this result demonstrates the importance of securing and maintaining a large customer base, the other Finalists should be encouraged by their outstanding performance with respect to the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty that they commanded. Beginning from a position of strength will allow these suppliers to concentrate on growing market share rather than devoting the lion’s share of their resources to improving product performance.