Habit Forming

Feb. 27, 2009
Buying Habits Survey Result. Sixty-Two Percent of the Respondents Changed Vendors for at Least One Product in the Past Year
By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

The engine we use to collect the results of the study for this month’s Buying Habits story isn’t easy to manipulate when you want to peel the data onion a bit. It often means dumping the data to Excel for some tedious sorting.

I don’t use it that often so it’s not a big deal, but I thought I’d whine about it some and hope you might suggest a survey engine that is data sort-friendly.

I went back to the data to look for other differences between those who say their primary source of product research is local distributors and those whose primary method is visiting vendor websites and those who primarily go directly to the vendor product experts. Those were the three biggest groupings reported.

The overall data say 62% of the respondents changed vendors for at least one product in the past year—more than the shocking 52% we reported last year. The group that says its primary product-research tool is visiting vendor websites was a little less volatile—57% of them changed product brands. The other two groups hugged the average.

Did their reasons for changing differ? A bit. Of those who prefer direct contact with the manufacturers, 43% said price was the reason for change, 36% said it was product performance/quality. The “distributor” group reported that 35% changed because of price, 29% for performance or quality issues. The “vendor website” group numbers were 42% and 26%.

So what factors about vendor choices influenced these three groups differently? A couple of them seem to stand out a bit. Lowest price and buying the leading technology were important to all the groups, but only 9% of the distributor group said that was very important, compared with 15% of the two other groupings. Similarly, only 15% of the distributor-centric group consider having the leading technology as a very important factor, compared to 28% of the vendor-website group and 39% of the direct group that thought this was indeed very important. The distributor group also valued a strong brand name a bit more, with 13% saying it’s very important compared with 4% of the vendor-website crowd.

We shouldn’t read too much into this, but maybe this affirms the value the distributor group puts on the local assistance they need more than a low price or to employ the newest automation toys.

That seems supported by the finding that 45% of the vendor-website group said after-sales support was very important, compared with 61% of the distributor group.

Does this make any sense to those of you who identify with one of these groups? What are other reasons to consider?

By the way, it’s also the time of year to consider acquiring another buying habit.  We’re gearing up for another AutomationXchange, so if you’re curious or interested, just get in touch for more details.