Thursday, July 03, 2014

New research puts engineers in the spotlight

Research just released by Industrial Technology magazine shows engineers are actually spending more time reading magazines at work and that magazines are shading out web sites as the preferred source for keeping up to date with new products.

Industrial Technology has been conducting similar readership surveys over the last twenty years and has this data to call on for comparison when exploring the preferences of a new generation of engineers. The survey also helps create an engineering persona as being predominantly male, despite a few more women now in the profession, typically mid forties and a Daily Telegraph reader. The latter preference was included as a control question. Whether there is a preference for traditional dark blue or charcoal suits is not mentioned, but despite being brought up in a 'calculator and computer era' rather than as 'slide rule manipulators' of earlier times, they sound similar to earlier generations of engineers.

As an apprentice in north London in the late 1960s we had a library in the research labs where it was OK  to read during work time. But from what  I  recall it was dry stuff like recently filed patents as the magazines tended to go to the commercial engineering types in head office. In our lab we read the Express or Mail in the scheduled tea and lunch breaks. It was only when I moved to head office in the West End that I  took to buying the Telegraph to read on the train commute. We circulated magazines with little lists stapled to the cover, so it could be some time before you got to read the 'news'. 

Today news is instant, some might think to frequent. Today's engineers say that email broadcasts and page flipping on-screen magazines are not welcome, although newsletters are appreciated and email is liked for requested information. Nothing is said at all about the role of social media for networking or video  product demonstrations for example. The picture emerges too of a preference to seek and acquire product information before contacting a company. Magazine advertising also prompts visiting web sites for more of that information. 

So summing up, advertising in the quality trade press is a driver for engineers to visit your web site to learn more. Page turning versions are not popular  any more than email blasts, but printed magazines and newsletters still rank well as a resource for relevant information.

Acknowledgements to Industrial Technology for permission to quote from the survey. Here is a summary of the main findings.

  • The last ten years has seen a small increase in the number of female engineers.
  • Average age of readers remains static around the mid forties.
  • The amount of time spent reading magazines at work has actually increased so, although under pressure at work, they still find them of value in their job.
  • 49% of readers will visit a suppliers website for more information after having seen an  advertisement that interests them.
  • Despite being the preferred method for readers to be contacted when they make an enquiry, only 34% of suppliers regularly use email to reply to enquiries.
  • 60% of readers have “no interest” in eShots and eBlasts, yet 43% of readers find Newsletters useful.
  • Search engines then magazines remain the top methods of finding a supplier for component (87% and 77% respectively) but to keep up to date with new products it’s
  • magazines then web sites (64% and 57% respectively).
  • Only a small proportion of readers (24%) will view page-flip magazines on a computer.
  • 80% of readers will “opt-out” of receiving information from third parties. This is up from 70% ten years ago.
  • Since 2009 the exhibitions that have entered Industrial Technology reader’s “Top 12 preferred exhibition list” are: Southern Manufacturing, Farnborough Air Show, Offshore Europe, Advanced Manufacturing, SPS/IPC/Drives, Hillhead, TCT, Sensors Instrumentation, and Automatica.
  • Industrial Technology readers receive an average of 6 magazines per month as part of their job.
  • The Daily Telegraph has been and still is the most popular daily newspaper read by Industrial Technology readers, based on a question used to check statistical validity.

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