The digitisation of construction product information has not obviated the need for construction product directories: instead, it has simply changed the medium in which the information is disseminated and they remain an important communication channel between manufacturers and specifiers. No longer are they printed, weighty tomes that formed almost permanent fixtures of every architect’s office, but they have transitioned online to become fully integrated with the digital workplace, enabling specifiers to make informed decisions quickly, based on instantly downloadable product information, technical data, BIM Objects, product videos, CPD Information, CAD files, etc.
Consequently, construction product directories represent a very important component of any communication plan targeting construction specifiers, helping manufacturers and suppliers to create brand awareness and generate sales leads. Usage levels will vary depending on the professional discipline, for example, a contractor is likely to use them much less than an architect. In 2017 NBS / RIBA Insight published a report entitled ‘What Specifiers Want’, which reported on the results of a survey conducted amongst specifiers designed to help product manufacturers understand how they research and select products. The report commented on the use of product directories and, citing its own resource, concluded that there remained a clear role for them, stating “…. Other sources of product information still have a place: 55% of respondents used ribaproductselector.com, more than the percentage that used other companies’ online product directories.”
In 2017, SpecifiedBy researched the subject for its ‘Specifier Insights Report’ and found that 76% of specifiers used building product directories at some point in their research process and that 62% of specifiers used a combination of product directories on a regular basis. In 2018, the usage of product directories was covered by construction marketing specialists, Insynth. In an article entitled ‘What Is a Building Product Directory?’, Insynth commented that “….Typically, specifiers will stick to known brands or businesses that they have worked with in the past that have provided a good product and service, adding the risk of the unknown into your project is usually avoided where possible. However, when specifiers are looking for a new solution or supplier, their search will begin and directories are likely to a part of this process”.
The outlook for the construction product directory is one of perpetual evolution, as directory publishers continually adapt to the industry's trends and changing practices. The diverse and fragmented nature of the industry means that there are many such directories, some with a broad range of product categories and some focused on specific sub-sectors. In general, publishers will include suppliers' basic entries free of charge (unless considered inappropriate), with enhanced entries or advertisements incurring commercial rates.
In this database, we have detailed over 50 such resources, and this may be downloaded here (you must be logged in to access this).