Meanwhile, the survey of customers' satisfaction among the European distributors has already been initiated. The questionnaire concerns the issues, such as: how many suppliers' services do the distributors use? Are they satisfied with them and what do they expect in terms of the attitude towards customers, service, after-sales service, stocks and import from the Far East? In the same survey, we ask what (marketing) brands in various product groups (textiles, electronics, stationery, watches) are the first ones that come to distributors' minds, and which of them they recommend to their customers. This survey will provide the suppliers with valuable information which they can make a reference to, and which they can use to verify their strategy.
Detailed account from Pro9
The organisers will certainly share the results of the research with the European industry through European magazines and detailed accounts during Pro9. Hans Janssen (Het Portaal): "The exhibitors, who support the concept through their presence at Pro9 and contribute to the development of a knowledge centre, will receive information much earlier than others." The organisers received many requests for the opportunity to participate in this survey from the suppliers, as well as for the opportunity to ask specific questions, which are essential for their companies (the answers will be relayed directly and exclusively to these companies). Along with Synovate, we have currently been exploring the possibility of conducting such research.
In the Netherlands, the Het Portaal Uitgevers publisher was conducting the market research among final customers, distributors and manufacturers/suppliers for the needs of their business magazines, such as PromZ Magazine and PromZ Trade, for many years. In summer 2008, a part of the above mentioned survey of customers' satisfaction was conducted among Dutch distributors. Here are some notable results:
• On average, Dutch distributors run their businesses with 42 suppliers (34 in case of smaller companies which employ fewer than 15 full-time employees, and 72 in case of larger distributors with more than 15 employees).
• Distributors regard the following factors as very important in the relations with their suppliers: the speed of response after entering a bid, delivery time, flexibility, dealing with complaints, and appointing a special contact person.
• Distributors in the Netherlands, regard tailor-made products, as well as placing prints on products as less important in their relations with a supplier, while the suppliers consider it very important. • Dutch distributors consider (advanced) possibilities of placing online orders much more important than suppliers might think.
Synovate conducted research for Pro8 on turnover and the market position of distributors in the main European countries.
The research was carried out in 2007. Synovate conducted a survey among over 500 distributors (about 100 per country).
Some of the results of the survey in 2007 are as follows:
• The research indicates the existence of significant diversity concerning the development of turnover among the surveyed countries. In some countries, e.g. in Germany and in the Netherlands, an increase of turnover was achieved in 2007. However, in other countries (Spain, Italy, France), distributors reported significant stagnation in sales, despite the fact that some distributors obtained an increase of turnover in these countries.
• Another interesting conclusion was the fact that distributors operating on the business to business market, have a large customer base amounting to hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of customers. It requires the use of modern marketing methods because the annual personal visits to all customers are virtually impossible.
• The result of the research was also notable. It indicated that the increase of new customers was varied in different countries. For example, in the Netherlands, an average increase in the number of new customers amounted to 17 % in 2007. In Italy this number was smaller and amounted to 11 %.
• The Synovate's survey carefully examined the development of the market including the division into products' categories. The sale of some products, such as electronics, including USB, clearly rose, while the demand for the products such as calendars and office articles fell. Taking a broad view, despite the diversity between countries, it is a worldwide tendency. For example, the increase in sales of electronics is much slower in Germany and Italy, than in other countries. In contrast, the decline in sales of calendars and office articles is progressing much more slowly in Spain and Italy, than in the other surveyed countries. At the same time, the research showed that many distributors manage to divide their business into several product groups, thanks to which limiting their risk of not adjusting the offer to the market requirements. The survey showed a clear difference between the distributors and the countries.
• The research also covered the purchase and production of marketing materials in China. This topic has recently been very popular and it seems that most of the distributors have responded to this phenomenon, however, they have not stopped the production in China.
Source: Pro9 Exhibition News www.pro-9.eu