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15. July 2015

 

You’re probably over 50; you likely bought capital equipment in 2014; and you consulted a printed trade publication before doing so.

 

Those results culled from the 5th annual “Media Usage in Manufacturing 2015” survey conducted by Gardner Research, the market intelligence division of Plastics Technology’s publisher, Gardner Business Media Inc.

 

Completed in the first quarter of 2015, the survey elicited responses from a pool of 2,288 respondents composed primarily of executives, managers and engineers at companies engaged in durable goods manufacturing.

 

Investigating the demographic characteristics and media usage trends of today’s manufacturing technology buyer, the survey specifically examined business-to-business industrial marketing and media usage, covering topics such as: buying cycle behavior, search, mobile, media usage, social media and vendor selection.

 

More than 92% of the respondents, who come from the automotive, metalworking, plastics, composites and finishing markets, indicated they are directly involved in the purchase of machine, software, hardware, materials or tooling.

 

Segment Demographics
The respondents, like the manufacturing industry, skewed older, with only 14% aged 21 to 40, with the remaining 86% were 51-plus (65%) or 41 to 50 (21%) years old. In terms of markets served, 42% indicated they were contract manufacturers, with the top sectors including:

 

Automotive (42%)
Aerospace (38%)
Consumer products (30%)
Defense (30%)
Medical (29%)
Oil/gas/energy (27%)
Heavy equipment (23%)
Electronics (21%)

 

Among the respondents, 57% reported purchasing capital equipment in 2014, with the No. 1 research tool being the supplier’s website (77%), followed trade magazine/publication website (44%), and tradeshows (40%).

 

Push vs. Pull Marketing
The survey also identifies trends in push and pull media, where “push” is defined as:

Media that introduces a prospect to information and products they do not know they need.

While “pull” covers:

Media provides prospects with information they know they need but are not sure where to find it.

 

The goal being to, “Build brand identity early with push media…then use pull media to support that brand and harvest its benefits”.

 

Push media includes trade magazines and e newsletters, while push media can include trade magazines and e newsletters, as well as industry websites, tradeshows, webinars and blogs.

 

Key Findings
In the buying cycle, which consists of awareness, research, consideration, vendor selection, and product purchase, the survey found that:

 

The majority of manufacturing purchases (64%) are influenced by at least 3 people
Nearly 70% look for products or services at least once a week.

 

In terms of media used when manufacturing professionals are on the lookout for products and services:

 

Websites and trade magazines are the two most accessed and effective information resources for manufacturing professionals
Trade magazines remain the leading push media

 

Social media usage for business was on the rise, with 48.9% saying they use platforms like LinkedIn for work, up nearly 12% from 2014 (44%), marking four straight years of increased adoption.

LinkedIn and YouTube continue to be the most useful social media sites for manufacturing buyers
Overall perception of social media as a business tool remained flat with a below average rating of 2.64.

 

In terms of search:

Manufacturers are significantly more likely to select search returns featuring brands they recognize (93%) to brands they are not familiar with (31%)
When reviewing search engine returns, manufacturing professionals favor technical articles and known brands over images, ads and videos.

 

New Media As A Complement to Old Media

 

Commenting on media usage trends, Rick Kline, Jr. group publisher & vice president of Gardner Business Media noted:

 

Looking back over the five year survey history, it is clear that manufacturing professionals are incorporating new forms of media in their research and buy cycle. However, adoption of newer media is being used as a complement to, not as a replacement for, traditional media forms. As a result, a marketing mix integrating multiple media remains the most impactful means to reaching today’s active, evolving technology buyer as they progress from awareness to vendor selection.

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