This report offers a summary of a recently conducted survey of West Michigan businesses. Support for this research was provided by Design West Michigan and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. Overall, the surveyed West Michigan businesses indicated that they recognize the importance of design to their success. The major findings of this study are:
Of the firms surveyed, 75.0 percent indicated that they either “agree” or “strongly agree” that their business’s success will rely on being able to compete on product or service design. Only four other factors out of 19 listed achieved a higher rating and all related to price or market entry. Moreover, design was higher rated relative to many established, traditional factors that businesses appreciate, such as reduced regulations and engineering waste out of the current system.
Despite the current lackluster economy, approximately one out of every four firms indicated they will likely or very likely hire a new production or system designer during the next five years. This is a highly response rate than for either information technology occupations or accountants—two occupations that had seen strong hiring in the past.
The average rate of sales growth for the past five years reported by firms interested in design was 9.93 percent, which is higher than the 5.64 percent average reported by the other firms. However, due to small sample size and high variably, the difference between the two growth rates is statistically insignificant.