Posted on: 28 October 2016 By: Ray


Engineering360 has published its 2016 edition of “The Industrial Buy Cycle” this October. It looks extensively at how engineers buy goods and services worldwide, including from business to business on the internet. The study is concise (19p.), well written, clear and matter of fact, well illustrated with apposite understandable graphed data.

IEEE Engineering360 , the newly acquired marketing organization of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), based in New York state (US) and with a representative office in Berkshire (UK), serves engineers and technical professionals internationally and across industries and disciplines. It boasts a community 8 million industry professionals. For industrial marketers it offers digital media solutions that connect companies with their target audience.

As continuous, rhythmic cycle of quarterly decision-making

The study finds that the average annual buying cycle is 12 weeks long—although 20 percent of engineers report buying cycles of four weeks or less. The typical engineer is directly involved in four projects per year.  Engineers possess an average sign-off authority of nearly US $5,000, and personally are responsible for an average of $110,900 in spending. Engineering teams spending US $100,000 or less on components, equipment or services are involved with 3.5 projects on average.

The study details “the purchase stage of the buying process can itself be surprisingly lengthy – one month on average”, while in smaller setups, phone or on-line buying is more common.


Budget authority resides throughout the organization – not just with senior managers. Staff and management engineering play a more important role than others in the initial stage (research and needs analysis), and a less important one than others (procurement and corporate management), in the final phase (purchase). The buying process will involve evaluations or RFQs from three suppliers on the whole.

Who decides what to buy and why?

As a result, industrial marketers need to have a consistent overall message to market, but they also need to ensure that they are communicating with these different personas.

The most important criteria for choosing a product to buy are:

  • Technical support
  • Delivery
  • Availability or turnaround time
  • Compatibility with existing products or systems

The study finds the most utilized sources the buying engineer consults when seeking to purchase are : the suppliers’ websites, general search engines like Google, online catalogues, and enquiring with colleagues.


However, it says the “key takeaway is that there is no single “go-to” resource preferred by industrial professionals at any stage of the buy cycle. These findings illustrate the importance of having a multi-channel marketing strategy”.

To sum up

The 2016 IEEE Engineering360 Industrial Buy Cycle Study shows just how diffused purchasing responsibility now is in organizations large and small around the globe. The study demonstrates that while spending authority is ubiquitous across the technical community, roles and responsibilities have continued to transform. Engineers around the world have enormous leeway on what they buy.

This buying takes place in the context of a continuous buying process—lasting on average 12 weeks and renewing itself four times per year. Engineers have grown to depend on various information sources depending on what stage they find themselves at during this twelve-week cycle. Marketers can leverage this knowledge to provide the information and the resources that engineers require—at the time they need it—to drive preference for their brands and create loyalty for their products.

The study has the following advice for marketers : remember that engineers have joined the profession to solve problems, not merely to buy your products or services. By nature they’re not buyers or negotiators. So help them with this. Provide ample reams of information at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Be persistent and consistent in your messaging. Make sure your messaging focuses on relevant issues and salient benefits, not just glittering generalities regarding supplier capabilities.

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Find out more

Download the study

Earlier White Paper published by Europages on “The online b2b purchasing process : How buyers search online and how SMEs must respond” (oct 2015?)

5 Key Takeaways from the Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, MarketingMaven, October 24, 2016

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