Market Research and Social Media: Ceiling Case Study

Social media is a fast and inexpensive way to conduct market research.  Here is a case in point:

When one of my clients needed to know the relative demand for the several sizes of ceiling suspension grid, I posted a question on five LinkIn groups that attract contractors, design professionals, and building product dealers. Within a few days, I had 18 replies from across North America plus several from overseas.

The sample is too small and the survey instrument to informal to be statistically meaningful. And does not differentiate between geographic patterns or between commercial and "architectural" work. Still, it provided perspective that has proven helpful in understanding other available information. It also clarified where we needed to focus further research.

Key findings:

1. Of the respondents that gave percentage of use, 72% of market is 15/16", 28% is one form or another of 9/16", and an insignificant amount in the extra wide width.
2. These averages do not reflect individual patterns. Some use over 90% 15/16" grid and others primarily use the narrower width. It is important to know your specific niche.
3. In general, there is a perception that the narrower products look better.

See other comments, below:

OBSERVATIONS ABOUT 9/16" More visual options.  Allows for different profiles.
- An upgrade used with more expensive 2x2 panels, Its a small price in increased cost.
- high-end work is 60% slotted, 40% slimline
- Higher end office, hospital, car dealerships
- Architecturally, the 9/16" wide grids look better.
- 9/16" grid is an " ELITE " grid as it supports typically more expensive tile and carries a premium price over 15/16" grid.
- Two trends -- Hide the grid. Or use narrow grid.

Chicago Metallic 830 All-Aluminum 15/16"
- lower end offices and stores; vanilla box and retail
- Allows most choices for future remodelling. Tenants in spaces that need flexibility and growth potential will want continuity in design, and selecting a tile that will still be available in 2-3 years is an important factor.
- 15/16" Grid outsells 9/16" grid by a substantial amount. It is the least expensive option for grid and the tile that interfaces with it.
- 15/16" is a dated suspension system, why would any any end user choose that.
- In seismic areas I've used more 15/16.
- 15/16" (1" nominal), mainly because I believe it to be the product most often stocked by distributors, and therefore less apt to result in small custom orders or long lead times.
- Another reason is for installation tolerance. Narrow lines accentuate small errors in alignment. I understand the visual appeal argument, but just as narrow grout lines in tile might be preferred for the same reason, they make it more difficult to achieve a workmanlike final appearance. I can't believe this doesn't have an impact, however small, on installed cost.

Very limited demand. Most of that is for clean room, hospital, IT conditions, although one person mentioned seismic strength and wider bearing surface No one addressed the aesthetic potential of the wider grid, something that has only recently been promoted by manufacturers.

Contact me if I can assist you with your market research needs.  michael [at]