How Food and Beverage Industry Professionals Consume Media

Industry professionals seek pertinent information for solutions and reward media that fulfill specific needs.

By Larry Bagan, Publisher

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We at Food Processing value the dedication, passion and ingenuity that drive food & beverage industry professionals and processors to greater heights.

The greatest challenges to food and beverage processors appear to lie ahead, based upon the following: world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in the year 2050; global food production should be 60 percent higher than that of 2005/2007 to meet 2050 projected world food consumption.

To better serve our readers with the most valuable information, via the media formats preferred by our industry, Food Processing and Preston/Rogers Associates have undertaken four comprehensive Media Consumption Studies (over the past five years). The studies have been conducted to solicit and analyze the media consumption of food and beverage industry professionals.

This is a time in history when food and beverage industry professionals often wear multiple hats, more forms of media exist than ever before and the industry's challenges remain great. Given that background, we felt compelled to share the information gleaned from the 2013 Media Consumption Survey Among Food & Beverage Industry Professionals. The study results are based upon 568 Food Processing subscriber responses to the survey; margin of error for a survey this size is +/- 4.1 percent, at the 95 percent confidence level.

Media Consumption

Media consumption is on the rise

Ninety percent of survey respondents indicate their consumption of food & beverage industry-related media (print and digital) remained the same or increased over the past 12 months. Of the 35 percent of respondents who report they spent more time consuming media during the past year (only 10 percent reported spending less time consuming media), 63 percent cite food & beverage industry magazines as a media source accounting for their increase in media consumption; 53 percent cite the increase in consumption of food & beverage industry e-newsletters as a contributing factor. Social media and webinars/webcasts were cited by 24 percent of respondents as accounting for increased media consumption.

Those who say that the printed magazine format is dead may want to pause and consider the following study results before closing the coffin: Industry professionals prefer to receive their magazines in a printed edition, rather than a digital format, by a 2 to 1 margin; the number of respondents stating they would be interested in a version of Food Processing for the iPad or tablet (27 percent) is down from 31 percent in 2012 (the first year the study asked this question). For the past two years, the studies have asked respondents to identify their age group. The 2012 and 2013 studies both report that industry professionals aged 35 and under consume the most print media.

Reasons for reading, actions taken

The reasons cited most by food & beverage industry professionals for reading industry magazines are: to keep current on food/beverage industry news/analysis, look for new ideas and learn about new products/vendors.

As a result of reading food & beverage industry publications, 68 percent of industry professionals indicate they may use ideas found within articles, 54 percent may visit an advertiser's website and 41 percent may contact a vendor/advertiser to learn more about a specific product/ingredient.

Respondents with R&D/Technical Research/New Product Development responsibilities consume the most print media (2 hours per week). In addition, they are the most likely to: contact a vendor/advertiser (54 percent), visit an advertiser's website (60 percent), and utilize magazines to look for new ideas (76 percent). It's also worth noting that 50 percent of Executive/Senior Management and 51 percent of Purchasing/Procurement professionals cite the likelihood of contacting a vendor/advertiser as the result of reading a magazine article or advertisement. Forty-four percent of Productions/Operations professionals, also above the study average, state they may contact a vendor/advertiser after reading industry magazines.

Digital media consumption

Consumption of digital media has remained relatively consistent since 2008 (same as for print media). Like its print brother, digital media consumption is strongest among R&D/Technical Research/New Product Development respondents. It probably does not come as a surprise that the 35 and under age group consumes the most digital media, but the following survey result might: Those aged 55 and older consume as much digital media as their youngest industry counterparts.

Search engines are the resource used the most for work purposes, with 63 percent of respondents citing daily use. Magazines are utilized second most frequently by industry professionals, with supplier websites ranking third, followed closely by e-newsletters. Social media is used by 74 percent of respondents for business purposes, although that is down from the 87 percent who claimed business usage in 2012's survey.

FoodProcessing.com was accessed by 74 percent of survey respondents. Twenty percent of food & beverage industry professionals cite the use of YouTube for business purposes (the first time YouTube was included in the survey). Roughly one-third of food & beverage industry processors continue to block the use of social media at their companies.

What about QR codes? They made their debut within the 2012 Media Consumption Study with 7 percent of respondents reporting usage. This year's study reports that 11 percent of food & beverage industry professionals currently use the "square mazes." We'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Most important sources for vendor selection

Unlike most of the other questions asked within the 2013 Media Consumption Study, respondents to the following were instructed to select a single, most important source, rather than to select all sources used. Here are the results, none of which has changed in ranking since the first Media Consumption Study was conducted back in 2008:The single most important source for staying current with technologies, products and vendors is print magazines, by almost a 3 to 1 margin over search engines. When it comes to obtaining information or specifications, search engines are cited by about a 2 to 1 margin over print magazines. As for confirming/validating purchasing decisions, 6 percentage points separate search engines, print magazines and vendor sales/account reps overall – with each being the leading source within at least one age group.

What does this all mean?

The Media Consumption Study indicates industry professionals use print and digital media often, over five hours per week, but for different primary purposes – print media for new ideas and the development of "short lists" of potential vendors, and digital media for research/due diligence.

We often hear the following phrases, representing two different spectrums of thought: "The more things change, the more things remain the same," or "Change is a constant." We at Food Processing take a varying viewpoint, one that "change can occur at any time." It is for this reason that Food Processing continues its investment in research for the food & beverage industry. Research that includes but is not limited to: The Top 100 Food & Beverage Companies, the annual Salary Survey, Manufacturing Trends Survey and our Capital Spending Report, etc. These research studies help us provide you with the most accurate and updated industry information available.

Regardless of what the future may hold, you may be assured of the following: Food Processing will continue to provide you, our loyal readers (average subscriber tenure 8.1 years), with the most accurate and empowering editorial content. Content provided in your most preferred formats of delivery, whatever those formats may be – present and future. Could those be the reasons that Food Processing is one of a few, if not the only, B2B franchises that can claim last month's (August) print magazine was our largest since 2001, while our digital products register a record year?

Thank you for all that you do, and for your continued readership and support of the Food Processing franchise!

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