The 2018 Font Purchasing Habits Survey Results: Part 1/3

Welcome to Part 1 of 3 of the Font Purchasing Habits Survey Results. This content is so long that I’ve decided to split it up.


INDEX:

Part 1: Demographics & Distributors
Check out Part 1 to see the demographics of survey respondents, this year’s list of most popular font distributors, and how this list stacks up to site traffic data.

Part 2: Font Features, Evaluation, & Pricing
Part two contains information about the font features customers want, how customers evaluate fonts, and the prices they are willing to pay. Additionally, part two contains Likert scale questions and four new questions asked this year about licensing, budgeting, spending, and managing fonts!

Part 3: Font Feelings & Customer Segments
My new favorite section is all about font feelings. See part three for information about how customers and type designers feel about variable fonts, major font brands, and if fonts are still sexy. The presentation will wrap up with a dive into the customer journey and data-based customer segments.

To read the full presentation, click here.
You can download the PDF slides here.


The third annual Font Purchasing Habits Survey ran for 45 days from May 5 to June 20, 2018. I asked 56 questions related to font preferences and purchasing habits. Respondents who completed the survey received a pack of 15 fonts great Monotype fonts for free. The results of this anonymous survey were debuted in August at TypeCon2018 in Portland, Oregon. This article contains the talk and the original slides.

I created and printed booklets to accompany the talk, and all TypeCon attendees received them in their goodie bags. Thanks to the fine people at Scout Books for the expert printing!

I am happy to announce that we received a record-breaking 15,745 responses this year!

This is a really useful dataset. For a population of 17 million creative professionals, we have a confidence level of 99% with a confidence interval of 1. What this means is that if 50% of the survey respondents choose an answer, then we can be 99% sure that between 49% and 51% of the population would choose the same answer.

This is in large part due to our amazing sponsors. Big thanks to them for spreading the word and supporting this research.

Additionally, survey takers received 15 Monotype fonts for free if they completed the survey. This was no easy task as there were 56 questions.

Over time, the survey has grown in unexpected ways. You can see the past three years below. Between 2017 and 2018, we saw the number of responses grow 506%!

The goal of this survey is to focus in on the font user and the font customer. The driving question is “What do customers want?”

The short answer is… fonts! The long answer is a bit more complicated, as we’ll see. In this article, I’ll focus on the following things — survey demographics, YOY comparisons, customer segments, general purchasing habits, and my new favorite category — Font Feelings!

Demographics

  • 65% of respondents are White or Caucasian.
  • We see the skill level normally distributed, with 74% reporting intermediate or advanced skill level.
  • 55% report purchasing 1 to 10 individual fonts in a year on average.
  • 52% of the survey respondents are male and 39% are female.
  • 69% say they use fonts as part of their job.
  • The average age is 41.6 years, with a median and mode of 40.

Responses came in from 119 countries. 46% were from the US.

57% report using fonts primarily in the field of graphic design. Of those 57%, 41% are freelancers.

More Demographics

29% of survey takers report that they personally know a type designer, and 8% report that they have created and sold a typeface at some point in their life. It should be noted that this 8% isn’t the type designers who are full time or who make their living with type — this 8% is ANYONE who has EVER made a typeface.

  • 21% of respondents don’t know if they have software where they can access alternate characters and use OpenType features in fonts!!!
  • 44% of respondents use fonts from a subscription service.
  • 67% of respondents are aware that Adobe Typekit is included with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
  • 73% of respondents pay for a subscription music or video service.

Font Distributors

Respondents were asked the following question:

“Please select all of the suppliers you have used to pay for or download fonts in the past 6 months. (multiple answers possible)”

They could select as many responses as they wanted.

It should be noted here that the results of this question are specific to the respondents of this survey and do not accurately reflect the behavior of the entire population of type customers because this is a convenience sample.

You can see the top 8, this year compared to last year:

In the chart below, you can see all responses (except the lowest 4, removed because they had less than 150 responses each, making the results not statistically significant). You can read the following chart by saying, for example: “43% of survey takers say they have used Google Fonts in the past 6 months.” Additionally, customers report that they use an average of 4 different distributors. Last year, this was 5.

One way to test the accuracy and relevancy of the survey responses for this particular question is to compare the self-reported survey data to site traffic data estimates. I used a free trial of the SEM Rush service for this.

Examining the bars in the same chart but using SEM Rush site traffic estimates will reveal how the survey results map to reality. The goal is to have more tall bars on the left and more short bars on the right…

And overall, it looks pretty good! The only outlier is Envato, which had high site traffic but low survey response. One reason for this could be that it is not just a font website, but rather focuses on many different kinds of creative assets, fonts being only a small part.

Additionally, there is a caveat for the figure for Adobe Typekit Subscription. This percentage does not take into account the fact that it is integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud. We can’t measure the traffic of Typekit inside Creative Cloud, so it is likely that this number is much larger. The data shown here is for the website https://typekit.com/.

We are unable to get estimates for some categories. Google Fonts is a subdomain of Google so there is no data available. The categories “Free font websites” “Other” and “Individual type designers websites” have no data because they are broad categories. We are unable to get data for Future Fonts because their URL ends in .xyz.

I recommend anyone who sells anything, especially fonts, to use a tool like SEM Rush to look up site traffic data when they are considering offering their fonts online for sale or working with a distributor. This is a FREE tool that anyone can use, and there is no reason not to get as much information as possible when making a decision! Site traffic can indicate the number of customers that could discover your products on different sites.


Keep reading! Check out Part 2/3 here →

Part two contains information about the font features customers want, how customers evaluate fonts, and the prices they are willing to pay. Additionally, part two contains Likert scale questions and four new questions asked this year about licensing, budgeting, spending, and managing fonts!


Mary Catherine Pflug is passionate about the type designers who make fonts and the graphic designers who use them. She leads the foundry team at MyFonts, managing 2,500+ foundry partners, and spearheads the Font Purchasing Habits Survey research initiative. She helps run TypeCon as the treasurer of the SOTA board and volunteer coordinator. She also sits on the city council of Bay State Design Shop, a community design organization in the New England area.

Mary Catherine Pflug

Written by

Fonts, doughnuts, data. Works for @Monotype + @MyFonts Opinions are my own.

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