Canada’s industry weighs in, Wood Industry listens
I have to confess, I really enjoy the surveys. We say we are doing it for editorial perspective and to help you understand the industry, and we are. However, I get a real kick out of the kaleidoscope effect of picking apart numbers and seeing what the pattern is.
First, methodology. Our random sample this year was 725 e-surveys that were delivered and opened, and 149 responses, for a response rate of 20.6 percent. As with everything else this industry does, this is amazing. Nothing helps so much with bureaucrats and politicians as to see activity and energy in a sector. You are saying you are serious.
We all know there is a controversy raging out there, and we are going to pass that by, here. You can read about it in the editorial. However, it is necessary to point out that some of the folks that are putting pressure against Wood Industry also signed in as readers to put a bias in the survey. Our first reaction was to delete them. However, if we deleted them we would be injecting what would be called a subjective bias by making a personal decision whether this or that respondent was eligible. Therefore, we left them.
This presented a very interesting picture, once you drill down. For example, the questions about the controversy typically yielded a response rate of 80 to 95 percent in favour of Wood Industry’s positions, with 5 to 20 percent against. Fair enough.
Now, one fact you will want to know is that response rates to a candidate or a political position are almost never over 70 percent. Since your responses are consistently over 80 percent, it is a real statistical oddity and indicates substantial unanimity among all our readers. That does not mean you all think alike. It does mean that matters that affect the industry are all viewed about the same by the manufacturers/readers. That is, we are all concerned about government, labour, imports, costs of compliance, economy and so on in approximately the same intensity across all provinces and sub-categories of the wood industry.
We always ask questions different ways to validate the responses. For example, when we ask whether you like “push” e-marketing each day to your inbox, 89 percent said no. That is substantial unanimity, especially with the installed bias mentioned above. We believe only an idiot would ignore the overwhelming demand of the customers, so you can bet Wood Industry will NOT be sending spam. When a market speaks, a marketer listens.
OK; 89 percent no. Then, we asked how many minutes you spend each week on industry media websites each week. Over 68 percent of you said less than 15 minutes. The one validates the other. You recognize and use digital media, but spend very little time compared to other industries.
It became interesting when we noticed that the ratio of one side to another stayed the same, whether we were asking about the controversy or about anything else. For example, 92 percent of you saw the business outlook as very positive (14.5 percent), positive (47.86 percent) or neutral (32.48 percent), while 5.12 percent saw the business outlook as negative or very negative. Of those that think all companies and organizations in Canada should abide by established standards, only 4.13 percent said no. Slightly over 7.5 percent say they do not like the controversial (sometimes) editorial on page 5 of each issue. Again, 7.69 percent think the monthly e-letter is too often, while 80.34 percent think it is just right, 5.98 percent would like it more often and .85 percent would like it weekly.
As you can see, a pattern starts to emerge. One commenter said we have biased the questions. Let’s be clear. A question is inherently biased. You cannot find out an answer if you don’t ask the question. We are all adults. When I ask whether you like Wood Industry (this magazine) or Woodworking (the competitor), I am not biasing anything. I am, however, anxious that you not make a mistake.
So our bias is toward the truth underlying the facts, and it appears the people that identify themselves both as “suppliers” and as negative (for lack of a better word) toward Wood Industry are consistently at odds with the overwhelming majority of their customers, as reported in the survey. As a former sociologist-in-training, that is a stunning finding to me.
As a publisher with 15 years in the wood industry in Canada, I have suspected this is true for a long time. Suppliers tend to be larger companies; our readers tend to be small (64 percent in shops under 25 employees and 77 percent in shops under 50). Supplier contacts tend to come up through sales; shop owners tend to come up through production. Et cetera.
This is neither bad nor good, but it is certainly interesting in the context of our continued interaction as a combined industry.
One comment that smarted was the accusation that we only present one side of an issue and don’t allow argument. That is simply not true. I have never, anywhere or at any time, refused to publish a letter to the editor that was contrary to anything anywhere in the magazine. The very nature of the editorials and web site is to inspire discussion. We WANT other points of view. Given what we have shown about the substantial unanimity of the survey results, the explanation could be there is little disagreement from the manufacturing side and little desire to be a public spectacle from sales. But whatever the case, we do not stifle opposition.
We have little space to publish what we would like. That is a function of ad sales. Therefore, our plan was to make this section short, including only the highlights. However, given the challenge, we have published all the raw data at www.woodindustry.ca, along with all the comments, good, bad, neutral and unintelligible.
Wood Industry remains the readers’ choice in Canada. With your help on this survey, we intend to stay there. In fact, we invite all competitors to review and copy our survey results and apply them to their own operations.