2009 Residential Unitary Market Trends

October 12, 2009
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Figure 1.

During May 2009, Clear Seas Research conducted research with industry professionals using both an online and mail survey data collection approach to understand industry trends, brand awareness/familiarity, brand loyalty, purchase drivers, and current business practices. Two separate surveys were administered, one focusing on residential unitary products and one on light commercial unitary products. In total, 466 industry professionals completed the residential section. Surveys were completed nationally, by owners or managers of HVACR businesses.

Contractors responding to this survey reported an annual sales average of $2 million, with 60 percent coming from the sales of residential heating/cooling equipment.


Responding contractors sell an average of three brands, and intend to do so five years from now. Although contractors expect the number of brands available to decline by approximately one-third in the next five years, the number of brands available has remained fairly consistent during the past six years. The presence of import manufacturers is expected to increase during the next five years.

When deciding which brand of residential unitary equipment to purchase, quality, reliability, and durability are “very important” factors followed by availability, technical support, serviceability, warranty, and operating efficiency. The importance of warranty, operating efficiency, competitive pricing, distributor credit, and rebates/incentives has increased significantly since 2007. (See Fig. 1.)


Figure 2.

At any point in time, almost one in four contractors are “as likely as unlikely” or “likely” to change from their primary brand. The main reasons for switching are better equipment availability, better price, and better warranty.

Almost one in four indicate that their customers always rely on them to decide which brand they purchase. The likelihood of a customer calling a company because of a brand carried has increased significantly during the past two years. (See Fig. 2.)


Figure 3.

According to survey respondents, the most used information source to learn about residential heating/cooling products is trade magazine articles followed by trade magazine advertising. The most important form of co-op advertising is brochures/literature, followed by Yellow Pages®, Internet, newspapers, and radio. Currently, the average amount spent annually on advertising is reported to be $31,263; one-third of this amount is spent on Yellow Pages advertising. (See Fig. 3.)

For more information about the 2009 Residential Unitary CLEAReport, please contact Jennifer Loomis at loomisj@clearseasresearch.com or 248-786-1630, or Beth Surowiec at surowiecb@clearseasresearch.com or 248-786-1619. The full report includes brand familiarity, product quality, brands purchased, top three industry leaders in five years, brand satisfaction ratings for 52 brands, and important factors driving brand purchase decisions.

Publication date: 10/12/2009

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