Participating specifiers, consultants & buyers

Accurate identification of the prime target market is a fundamental requirement of all suppliers in all industries, so this may appear to be stating the obvious. However, it is important to cover this issue since the UK construction market can appear confusingly diverse and fragmented and the professionals with responsibility for selecting, buying or specifying products or services may vary from those in the exporter’s home market.

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The following list represents the main professions and trades participating in the UK construction process:

Architects
Architectural technicians
Buyers
Local authorities
Project managers
Property developers
Building surveyors
Quantity surveyors
Main contractors
Sub-contractors
Facilities managers
Premises managers
Builders merchants
Consulting engineers
Structural engineers
House builders
Housing associations
General trades contractors (builders, plumbers, electricians, etc.)
Interior designers

In order to promote their products and services in the contract sector of the industry, suppliers have traditionally prioritised their marketing on the design-led professions, with the principal target group being architects (or major developers/house builders with in-house design resources). In recent years this has changed with the sphere of product selection influence widening. Whilst architects still remain at the forefront of most suppliers’ marketing campaigns, the range of participants who have influence and responsibility now includes many more of the professions and groups listed above.

This has been particularly noticeable in contracting, where the responsibilities of the contractor have increased from being limited solely to the implementation of the construction work, to more frequently being responsible for the overall project management, or perhaps just certain aspects of it in the case of sub-contractors. In many cases, this increased responsibility has moved the decision on product selection from the project designer to the project manager, in this case the contractor.

But the competitive nature of the industry has also ensured that many of the other professions have evolved to offer clients a wider package of construction services and they too have absorbed responsibility for, or influence over, the final product/service selection. In refurbishment projects for example, from a maintenance and performance point of view building surveyors will often specify product and materials, whereas quantity surveyors can influence the final product selection from their concern to control costs. 

Easy identification of the target profession or trade can be seen as blurred since the various participants increasingly overlap in the range of services provided. Additionally, many major house-building companies, construction companies and consulting practices now provide complete design & build services and offer clients a complete package from design through to completion and beyond into on-going maintenance.

Therefore, to simplify the matter and enable new suppliers to the market to focus on reaching the main specifier groups, the following list represents the main audiences targeted by existing suppliers currently active in the UK industry (the main trade bodies representing these groups and contact details will be found in the Trade Associations section in the Support Network):

Architects
Multi-disciplinary practices
Design & build specialists
Main contractors
Local authority property departments
Subcontractors
House-builders
Housing associations
Facilities/premises managers
Estate managers
Quantity surveyors
Building surveyors
Structural engineers
Consulting engineers
Building Surveyors

In addition to the above, two further groups of participants are important features of many suppliers’ sales and marketing campaigns, namely builders merchants and self-builders.

Builders merchants (and many DIY ‘sheds’ – very large, usually edge-of-town, shops) will be priority targets for suppliers of products and materials principally aimed at general contractors and trades such as builders, plumbers and electricians. Trade journals representing these specialist trades people include: Construction NewsPlumbing, Heating & Air Movement News; and Electrical Products & Applications (details in our Journals database). New stock will generally be controlled by the merchant’s in-house buyer, or owner in the case of the independents, and suppliers advertise to these audiences through specific trade journals such as Builders Merchants News. Alternatively, suppliers will advertise to merchants by direct mail and our database of Builders’ Merchants is available for download here (you must be a subscriber and logged in to access the databases).

Also, Construct UK would be pleased to compile a bespoke mailing list for clients (further details on request).

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