SparkFun's 2016 Customer Survey Results

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Hello! You may have noticed we conducted a survey a few weeks ago. The results ended up being pretty interesting, and we are very excited by the response we got.

Almost 11,000 people responded, making this the largest survey response we’ve ever had. This may have partially been a result of the Taz 5 3D Printer we gave away. Congrats again to our winner, Carlin! But without further delay, check out this excellent info graphic made by SparkFun designer Pete Holm.

Survey Results

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Survey says?

Who are you?

While a vast majority of our respondents describe themselves as hobbyists or tinkerers, they are almost evenly split amongst software minds and hardware minds. We usually assumed our customers were more hardware-minded.

What are your interests within electronics?

Four categories dominated these results: IoT, Robotics, 3D Printing and Home Automation. What we found interesting about this is that neither our product catalog nor our content offerings is really concentrated in any of these areas outside of IoT. Of course there is a balance to be struck between the business side of what we can carry and what the customer is most interested in, but as a result of these results we hope to add both products and content in these areas of interest.

What is your embedded electronics skill level?

Not much of a surprise here that respondents leaned toward advanced and intermediate users. We know our core customers usually have their educational backgrounds in the electronics or software fields, but we’re always trying to bring more people from outside those worlds to ours. We are constantly updating our list of tutorials to encourage anybody who wants to learn a new skill or technology to take the leap.

Which programming language do you find most useful?

Again, not a huge surprise here with Arduino, Python and C++ on the podium. Our world is built on making, and SBCs like Arduino and Raspberry Pi are the keys to making projects happen easily. So long as those languages and SBCs rule the embedded electronics world, we will keep providing resources and products that help you use them.

Are you more likely to buy a product if it is open source?

Honestly, we were not sure how much open source matters to people right now. But at a ratio of over 2-to-1, it really does. That is great because our company was founded and continues to run on the principles of open source. New ideas and innovation are what keep both SparkFun and the world of electronics moving forward, so we plan to keep open source ideals every step of the way.

Are most of your projects connected to the internet?

While most respondents' projects are not connected to the internet, 30 percent of them are, which is a pretty big amount. The world of IoT has created more than just a buzzword, but also a huge demand for products that can let you track and monitor your project via the internet. The meteoric rise of chips like the ESP8266 and new ESP32 show just how important connection is to many people’s projects.

How do you feel about soldering?

Well, 90 percent of people love it, as everyone should. Just kidding. But really, soldering should be fun, and we’re truly sorry if you don’t feel that way. Who doesn’t love playing with molten metal?

How frequently do you complete projects that have SparkFun components?

One per quarter, or four per year, was the biggest response here. I’m sure the number of “projects started” would be way higher than that, though!

Rate your experiences with SparkFun

Not to be all braggy, but it seems like you like us – you really like us! Documentation, quality and Customer Service/Tech Support are really how we differentiate ourselves in the world of electronics, so it’s no surprise that is what you like best about us. With this is mind, though, we know there are always places we can improve throughout the entire business. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please let us know. Getting better is pretty important to us.

Do you read SparkFun tutorials?

Turns out 90 percent of respondents do. Wow! That is what really blew us away. Thank you for your insatiable appetite for projects and concepts. If you keep reading them, we’ll keep making them.

Thank you for either participating in or reading all the feedback we got! This is all about making sure we know what you’re looking for at SparkFun, and we will always listen to what you have to say. Speaking of, if you found something cool in the data or have any suggestions, put them down in the comments below. Until next year!


Comments 13 comments

  • IDK if this will be read, but I know there are ways to determine traffic to specific pages with some html code. Might I suggest you use said code to track how many people view the tutorials? That would give you a real time number and it would very precise (even for people that aren’t sparkfun customers that got there from google.)

  • Arduino is a language?

    • Yes (for various definitions of yes). Arduino is a company (actually 2 right now), a line of boards, a bootloader, an IDE, and a language. Basically the Arduino language is C with a bunch of prebuilt libraries on top of it. The question then is how different does it have to be to be considered its own language? Is the fact that someone who’s learned to program in Arduino might not even recognize that code without the libraries sufficient enough to consider it its own language?

  • I find the question about the usefulness of the programming languages not very informative. When all you do is Arduino then pretty much the only thing useful would be whatever the Arduino IDE uses so the results (for that context) are 100% biased. When I answered this question originally I did it taking into account what languages I thought would be more useful IN GENERAL and in the broader sense. Of course someone using a Raspberry Pi will most likely choose Python, Bash, or maybe even Node.js or PHP. I think this question would be more relevant phrased like so “If you had the CHOICE, which language would you use, etc, etc”.

  • Wow.. it’s as if you ONLY read my response.. Those were all my answers! :-) And yes.. the number of STARTED projects FAR exceeds the finished project, as I sit at this keyboard looking at an 8266 Thing Dev board plugged in and running but not doing anything, and Arduino UNO with Ethernet shield, plugged in and running nothing, a Pro Mini plugged into my computer running nothing, an Arduino mega sitting sadly unplugged, 2 RPis in boxes still, and a sparkfun robot chassis half built with a motor controller hanging off the side…. oh wait.. there’s another UNO.. And, that’s just the tech visible on the SURFACE of my messy desk, each related to separate projects that bumped another off of the front burner.. :-)

    • Oh wait.. there’s that sparkfun bilge pump I bought… Why did I buy a bilge pump? I dont know.. I have a pool and a hot tub.. somewhere in my brain there’s an arduino controlled pool water level controller project, or some way to pump hot tub water into the pool to heat it, but for now, it sits in the box.. :-)

  • I’m one of those home automation interested peeps. A product SparkFun should be aware of [if you’re not already] which you could add hopefully to your offerings would be Z-uno which is a Arduino compliant Z-wave transceiver. Z-wave, IMHO, seems to be a solid protocol to build home automation projects around. These are not available in the US yet [https://z-uno.z-wave.me/buy/ this page says they are “seeking for a partner”]. They also do a RBPi device.

    • SIGN ME UP.. If I could get an Arduino to talk straight z-wave to my Vera, I’d be all over that!!

  • If someone was to have say, a couple of Arduino based, Open Source, Robotics products, who would be the best person to talk to?

  • I’m not surprised at the strong showing for software people. People who spend all their work time in the abstract space of software often enjoy doing something a bit more concrete in their spare time. And with the widespread use of microcontrollers there really isn’t such a thing as a pure hardware or pure software project in the maker space any more, and the software can be where the majority of the development time and effort go.

  • Is C lumped in with C++ or under other?

  • I’m interested to see where you want those metrics to move!

    • I’d be interested to see if giving away a 3D printer (vs. a more neutral SparkFun gift card of equal value) skewed the interest results toward 3D printing in any way.

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