Trades, Internet aren't competitors

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A new survey released earlier this month by Reed Elsevier Business Information shows that, for now, trade magazines and their Web sites aren't competing with vendor Web sites for the attention of buyers and specifiers.

The main conclusion of the research, conducted for Reed Elsevier by Martin Akel & Associates, Chester, N.J., is that magazines, their Web sites and vendor Web sites play major roles as sources of information at different stages of the purchasing process.

"These media are not in opposition to each other; they are complementary to each other," says Martin Akel, president of the research firm.

Along the buying spectrum

Specifically, in the early stage of the purchasing process, defined in the study as when buyers are becoming aware of suppliers and forming perceptions, magazines play the dominant role as an information source for buyers looking to stay current on suppliers and technology.

Trade magazine Web sites take on importance as buyers/specifiers move into the middle purchasing stage, or the time when companies are defining specific project initiatives. The research shows that buyers visit magazine Web sites to identify a range of products and suppliers for their current project.

Vendor Web sites play an important role in the middle phase as well, but their real value comes in the advanced stage of the purchasing process, when companies are ready to buy. At this stage, buyers are looking for product line specs and applications.

This study is a follow-up to research conducted in 1996 for the Chilton Manufacturing Group, Radnor, Penn. Last year, Cahners Publishing Co. merged with Chil-ton Business Group to form Reed Elsevier Business Information, Newton, Mass.

Other findings

Among other findings in this month's survey:

  • Almost three-quarters of all respondents to the survey, 73%, say they respond to trade magazine advertising frequently or very frequently via direct methods such as the telephone, fax and e-mail. Returning reader service cards, an indirect method, remains the most popular response mechanism with 57% saying they use the bingo cards frequently or very frequently.

  • Half of all manufacturing executives and professionals go online to conduct business, and that number is expected to grow to 75% by the end of the century.

  • Among those executives and engineers going online, 66% say they visit trade magazine Web sites.

    The mailed survey was conducted in July 1997 of 1,500 people in the Chilton Engineering MasterFile. There were 531 returns with three undeliverable for a response rate of 35.4%.

    Reed will hold two free seminars on the new research March 16 during the National Manufacturing Week Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago. To register, contact Reed Elsevier's Jim McMenamin at (610) 964-4493.

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