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, 246 industry professionals completed the light commercial section. Surveys were completed nationally, by owners or managers of HVACR businesses.

Participating contractors report an average of $4.4 million in business annually and have been in business for about 28 years.

These contractors currently sell four light commercial brands. The number of available brands of light commercial unitary products is expected to decline by one-third during the next five years. Yet, the presence of import manufacturers is expected to rise.

The majority of attributes evaluated are of lesser importance when selecting light commercial unitary products relative to residential products. The one attribute that is considered to be “very important” significantly more often by more than one-half of respondents, when selecting light commercial equipment, is “ease of installation.” The three factors rated “very important” significantly more often in 2009 compared to 2007 are availability, competitive pricing, and warranty. (See Fig. 1)

Figure 2.

Trade magazine articles are the primary source of information on new light commercial heating-cooling products, followed by trade magazine advertising. (See Fig. 2)

Advertising budgets for those focused on light commercial unitary equipment are about 40 percent less than for contractors focused on residential unitary equipment. About one-third of the advertising budget is spent on Yellow Pages® advertising. The role of the purchase decision maker is expected to change over the next five years, with HVAC contractors, building owners, and consulting engineers all having greater influence than they do today. (Fig. 3)

Figure 3.

For more information, contact Jennifer Loomis at or 248-786-1630, or Beth Surowiec at 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 53 brands, and important factors driving brand purchase decisions.

Publication date:10/19/2009