Reading the Market

Metalworking companies need to pay attention to signals about the trends influencing their customers and the buying patterns of their competitors.

Columns From: 12/3/2012 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Editor's Commentary

From the monthly column "Mark: My Word."

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Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.

This month’s cover story represents a bit of a departure for Modern Machine Shop. It reflects the growing importance of market research in decisions about what machine tools and related equipment to buy. It also shows our intent to provide more content based on this research.

Traditionally, our primary editorial focus has been on technology—how users are applying developments in metalworking processes and products to their advantage. Secondarily, we’ve complemented coverage of revealing applications with articles about shop management issues that impact how machining operations and the shopfloor workforce are organized. Less frequently, we’ve reported on “business intelligence” or “market research” about global machine tool production, the manufacturing industry in general and the overall U.S. economy.

The prominence of this article by Steven Kline is significant. Featuring this article as a cover story indicates that this kind of information is increasingly valuable to users (and suppliers) of metalworking equipment. We’re aware that the most successful metalworking companies not only meet the needs of their customers consistently, but also they anticipate those needs by staying prepared to provide new and timely capabilities. The best shops stay ahead of their customers’ part production requirements.

One of the messages we are sending by putting this article on the cover is “Pay attention to this kind of marketing insight.” As Steven says early in his article, an informed buyer makes better decisions. Every purchase has a tactical implication (how it helps the shop’s operations) and a strategic one (how it helps the shop’s business). Investments in new technology require both technical and marketing savvy.

Another message is that we will be devoting increased attention to market research such as spending forecasts and business trends. One goal is to offer more in-depth articles that provide useful insights, analysis and predictions to help you spot growth opportunities. A second goal is to use the market research internally to fine-tune our traditional coverage of technology. For example, based on trends that Steven identifies about machining center preferences, you can expect the value of horizontal machining centers to be a topic for feature articles, case histories and other editorial items in the months ahead.

Steven’s article also reflects the preeminence of Gardner Business Media (publisher of MMS) as a source of expert, authoritative research into the metalworking and manufacturing equipment marketplace. By growing this side of our business, we’re committed to a higher level of service to both buyers and sellers of manufacturing equipment. Our corporate identity and business branding will increasingly reflect this emphasis.

Finally, let’s not miss the most important message in Steven’s words. U.S. manufacturing is strong and growing stronger. The case for an optimistic outlook in 2013 is strong. We all have to be strong in our resolve to move forward.

 

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