Would They Rather Fight than Switch?

If you were buying a product that your life depended on, would you be easily persuaded to try something new?

Every day, tradesmen make decisions about products that their lives and livelihoods depend on. So it’s no wonder they have a reputation for loyalty to brands of tools and building supplies that they know and trust.

Yet there are strategies marketers can use to accelerate new product adoption — to get less “fight” and more “switch” from contractors. Here are three insights from a national research study of 400 general contractors, electricians, plumbers and HVAC specialists conducted by Eric Mower + Associates Group B2B in 2011:

  1. Show me — More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) named “better quality” as a reason for switching brands or products. Sixty-one percent look for innovation in new products. Beyond just promising quality and innovation, what can a marketer do to move more new product through the pipeline? Offer contractors the chance to try the product before purchasing. In our study, 55% of respondents said that the ability to try a product before purchasing would move them to change brands. Product sampling and product demonstrations — whether live or video — are smart strategies because they show your quality and innovation in action. Performance guarantees also lower the barriers to new product trial.
  2. Know me —Contractors are an opinionated bunch, and they love to share their experiences. When it comes to information on new products, 85% responded that getting recommendations from their peers was important. Positive word of mouth, online reviews, user testimonial videos, and case studies all have a place in a marketing mix that’s optimized to generate product trial.
  3. Find me — Our study reinforced that contractors are no longer relying solely on traditional distribution channels. In fact, 63% now prefer big-box retailers like Home Depot, Lowes and others when shopping for tools; one-third prefer distributors. And 29% have purchased tools and supplies online. So making it easy for contractors to see and purchase your product now means having a presence in more channels than ever before.