The 2018 SparkFun Customer Survey has come and gone. We'll be contacting the winner of the Taz Mini 3D Printer today; if you don't receive an email saying you are the winner by the end of today I am deeply sorry to tell you you have not won.
Now on to the data. I've selected a few questions to get some conversation started about SparkFun and the electronics/engineering worlds. I apologize for some of the weird text under the bar charts, but I'll take what Survey Monkey gives. Also note this data was not further broken down by any specific group that answered, all of this is just at the top level of responses. We're keeping the deeper dive for internal use. Here we go!
I've shared the very first actual question of the survey here. Given that about 9,000 people answered this question I'll take it as statistically significant. Actually, every question was answered to a statistically-significant level, which is awesome!
We see here that our main set of customers are overwhelmingly hobbyists and tinkerers. The next largest group are buying for some sort of work-related purpose. Rounding out the rest are educators, artists and students.
The fact that over 70 percent of customers are building projects for themselves is very interesting - as customer needs and desires shift, it's always cool to see that most people are really just solving a problem with a project they're making themselves.
Next, we see where people like to share their accomplishments. Almost 60 percent don't share at all; I suppose that 60 percent are non-millenials (joke). Of those who do share, most rely on their own website to share stuff. This tells me there are a lot of hardware/software makers out there who can not only build a cool hardware project, but also handle putting it on their own website!
Further down, Facebook dominates the social media world, which it does in general. Instructables is the highest-used maker-specific platform. The highest unlisted item under "other" was GitHub, which also makes a lot of sense. As a whole, I see a lot of people who take pride in their projects without sharing them, and another 40 percent that shares their work across a mixture of channels.
We were really wondering how involved our community is with makerspaces, so we asked! Nearly two-thirds responded that they don't use makerspaces at all - only 10 percent are very frequent users of makerspaces. Pete Dokter has a recent blog post about collaboration that addressed this, in a way. My guess is most people choose not to use them, while a much smaller percentage just don't have an accessible makerspace nearby. Since most of the respondents are hobbysists and use electronics for fun or as a side project, it makes sense that a lot of people may want to work alone. What are your thoughts on makerspaces and why you would or wouldn't be inclined to use them?
Next we have a SparkFun-specific question. The Dumpster Dive is a huge deal every time we do it. Based on the data, that appears to be driven by a very interested group of about 1000 people. I fear for the sanity of our kitting and shipping departments if an additional 4000+ want to participate. We'd manage, but I'm not sure there's enough reject boards to fill the demand; our production and QC departments are far too good to let that happen (wink). Jokes aside, that's a pretty high potential demand for random parts that may or may not be fully functional. One person's discarded circuit board is another person's potential project, as the colloquialism goes.
Now to some demographics. This graph isn't wholly surprising, but I hope it will continue to change over time. The world of engineering has been dominated by men for a long time, so this fits in line with that data. This isn't the easiest subject to approach, but I think it's important to call out that there's still a lot of work to be done by SparkFun and the entire electronics community. Are there any ways you would like to see us address this imbalance?
The last graph gives some insight on the education level of our customers. This makes a lot of sense to me, given that most skills needed to use electronics and programming have been taught in college up until now. SparkFun is part of a movement that hopes to move this stage of learning earlier and earlier into schools. Our technological future will ask a lot of future generations, and having good knowledge of electronics and programming at the high school and even middle school levels will really elevate student learning.
Right now it appears that four years or more of college is where the majority of our customers come from. Do you see fewer people needing higher-level education in the future to become electronic hobbyists, or will the lower barriers to entry available today make education level less significant in participating?
Thanks for taking a look at the data and weighing in! Obviously, data can be parsed, analyzed and reported on to come up with a bunch of different conclusions, but I thought it best to let you draw your own!
Thank you to everyone who participated, and let us know what you think can be done better or what's going well that you'd like to see more of. Have a great day!