In the first quarter of 2018, the manufacturing industry “contributed $2.33 trillion to the U.S. economy.” It’s an interesting fact, especially if you know that the majority (approximately 98%) of U.S. manufacturers employ less than 500 employees. While automotive and aerospace giants like General Motors, Ford and Boeing might immediately spring to mind, with their long assembly lines and labor unions, in reality, most American manufacturers are small mom and pop shops with 20 workers or less. These small manufacturing businesses are doing a lot of work — work that’s accomplished without many of the resources afforded to only a select (i.e., bigger) few.
And not only do they face an uphill battle competing against the big boys, but they must work doubly hard to ensure that the value of their products and services match the needs and demands of a changing global economy, too. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, “world trade in manufactured goods…more than doubled between 2000 and 2014.” However, the U.S. lost its status as the leading manufacturing country in the world to China in 2010 and is currently struggling with decreasing manufacturing output and declining employment interest. Keeping these figures in mind, it’s evident that American manufacturers, both large and small, need to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
One of the best ways that manufacturers cans fortify their health is by engaging in robust manufacturing market research. Not only can market research enrich and expand on manufacturing needs, it can also uncover opportunities for adding value to the customer journey. Here’s a brief outline of what quality market research can do within the confines of the manufacturing industry:
Reveal Opportunities for Consumer Engagement
Manufacturing sales cycles are oftentimes long. Manufacturing market research can help determine the best ways to keep your clients and prospects interested and engaged throughout the process.
Stay Abreast of Compliance Policies and Issues
Manufacturing regulations vary according to country, and companies with international customers and partners need to stay informed of and conform to local standards throughout all stages of the production and sales processes. Market research can help you identify and follow emerging trends so less money is spent on compliance surprises.
Streamline Production Processes
Changing technologies and shifting labor issues impact production cycles. Manufacturing market research can help you pinpoint new technologies that could aid manufacturing methods and mitigate human and/or mechanical oversight.
Assess Supply Chain Partner Relationships
The manufacturing industry depends on quality partnerships. Routine review of B2B relationships helps ensure practices that keep all partners performing well and satisfied.
Develop Marketing Strategies
Manufacturing market research can uncover insights about the customer journey that allow you to better understand and address consumer concerns, wants and needs and create advertisements and campaigns that are more effective.
Review the Competition
Part of good business practice is knowing the competition. Manufacturing market research can highlight what others are doing well and not so well so you can learn from and avoid the same.
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Despite some of the aforementioned issues negatively impacting the industry, U.S. “manufacturing is [still] forecasted to increase faster than the general economy.” More and more companies are spending their money on capital equipment (a boon for manufacturers), and with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allowing them to write the cost of those purchases off more quickly, manufacturing companies are poised for significant growth, especially when tax benefits are coupled with improving productivity levels (due to emerging technologies and rising wages). All of this can be further maximized with robust market research. Contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR) to learn how we can create a manufacturing market research plan that give you the insights you need to create better products, improve customer and partner satisfaction and boost your ROI!