By Marcy Marro, Editor
Are building product manufacturers doing everything they can to
support architects using their products? According to a new study
Institute of Architects (AIA), maybe not.
The landmark study, "The Architect's Journey to Specification,"
assesses the cultural, technical and information influences in the
choices made by America's building design professionals. The
research looking into the preferences, habits and attitudes of
architects in their roles as specifiers of building products also
shows that transparency and knowledge sharing are critical to
influencing choices about products to be used.
Offering a wealth of insights into the role of the architect in
specification, the study notes architects are calling on building
product manufacturers to advance their digital capabilities, as
well as their ability to consult and advice customers throughout
the many phases of a construction project.
Michele Russo, Senior Director of Research for the AIA, says the
architect's role in specification is well-known in the construction
industry, but how they make their choices and decisions is often
confusing to many. "The Architect's Journey to Specification
provides a broad view into the process for architects across the
United States, in small and large firms, focusing on multiple
project types, across the design, specification, and approval
stages of a project," she says.
In the architecture and construction industry, relationships are
important, especially as architects and designers are inclined to
rely on products they've used in the past, putting trust in
products they are familiar with. The study reinforces that
architects are interested in long-term relationships with trusted
partners who can provide additional knowledge and expertise.
Recommendations from the report include:
- Improved websites. Architects want product
websites that are clear, concise, up-to-date, and easy to navigate.
They also want easy access (no sign-up to view product information)
and access to detailed information, including building information
models and objects.
- Focus on education. Architects are required to
take continuing education courses in order to maintain their
license. Manufacturers can capitalize on this by creating and
offering online and face-to-face educational programming that
qualifies for continuing education credits. Beware the product
pitch disguised as education. Relationships have been damaged over
- Be an expert. Architects want to talk to
manufacturer representatives who know technical information about
the product. Manufacturers should prepare your sales force to be
highly knowledgeable about their products-and arm them with
specifications for those products.
- Be proactive. Architects see manufacturers as
important influence agents in specification phase of a project.
Their time is typically very limited, so manufacturers should
prepare their sales teams to understand the customer's pain points
first. That can help lead to a larger discussion about new product
- Be transparent. The more open a manufacturer
can be about the specification for a product, the more loyalty and
trust will be fostered with the architect. This will translate to
greater market share, as architects start to look at the
manufacturer as an extension of their project teams.
John Crosby, managing director of corporate partnerships at AIA,
says the report has major implications for manufacturers of
building and construction materials. "The level of detail in the
results provides a roadmap for future engagement with architects in
order to gain preference in specification choices," he says. "The
ability to filter the data online makes this report a must-have
Do you feel you get enough support from building product
manufacturers? What else can they do to ensure you have the
information and support you need?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.