If you've met with me in person recently, you probably heard me talking about the contractor trend study we just conducted. I am excited to share the results of this in-depth look at the latest communication preferences of contractors. In collaboration with iSqFt, we surveyed a diverse sample of contractors to help keep us and our clients ahead of shifts in the professional habits and best ways to reach this audience. Below are a few key insights that I have pulled from the findings I hope will help support your efforts this year.
#1-The gap between time spent online and time spent reading print continues to widen. Contractors are spending much more time visiting industry websites than they are reading print magazines. More time online means more opportunity to get in front of your contractor customers while they're on the computer so pay close attention to your online placements and your budget for print and online advertising.
#2-While print advertising continues to rank higher than online advertising in terms of influencing contractors purchase decisions, the clear majority of contractors trust industry websites more and prefer online over print as a better source of information for building products. Looking ahead, I think this will be an important trend to monitor as digital communications becomes increasingly cluttered and competition for space becomes more fierce.
#3-Manufacturer websites are the most powerful form of influence on contractors decisions. This reinforces the notion that your website is, among many things, your most important sales person. It is critical to not only drive traffic to your website but also make sure it accurately represents your company, is updated and functional for the end-user. Trade show demos and discount offers or incentive programs also carry a lot of weight.
#4-Cost and brand names are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Brand is the least important factor in a contractors' product choice, while cost continues to be the strongest driver. My asterisk to this finding would be that while they may not like to admit that brands have much power or influence in their minds, we do know that contractors are very loyal to brands they like. Once a contractor finds a brand they trust, they stick to that brand of product - and the research further reinforces this.
#5-Product performance and quality are key, yet price is still the top way to tempt a contractor into testing out a different brand than they normally use. So keep this in mind as you're determining price points for your products in 2011. If you're launching a product in an existing category - even if yours is superior in every way, offering a lower price remains the best way to capture your competitors' market share.
A comprehensive report including an executive summary, all of the findings and detailed survey results is available for download in the articles section of our website - http://functionatl.com/articles
Email me with any questions you may have about this study or if you're interested in help with your own research initiatives or effectively reaching your target audience: firstname.lastname@example.org
director of client development
FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations