The 2018 Font Purchasing Habits Survey Results: Part 2/3

Font Features, Evaluation, & Pricing

Welcome to Part 2 of 3 of the Font Purchasing Habits Survey Results. This content is so long that I’ve decided to split it up.


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.

What is the Font Purchasing Habits Survey?
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.

Font Features & Font Evaluation

There are two distinct but essential parts of the font purchase. The first is what features customers want when they download or buy a typeface. The second is how customers are evaluating fonts. The following two questions dive into these topics.

Font Features

The #1 thing font customers care about are the numbers of styles in a font family.

As you can see, 82% of customers say they care about the number of styles in the font family.

I added two new response options this year — “License types available” and “Foundry that designed the typeface”. In 2017, the results were pretty similar.

Font Evaluation

When asked about font evaluation, customers want to see the entire character set, type out their own words and phrases, see if the font has alternates and ligatures, and select and compare fonts with each other.

Here you can see a comparison to 2017.

One new response option was added in 2018. In general, the results are pretty similar to 2017.

New Questions!

This year, I added some new questions about font licensing, font budgeting, font spending, and managing fonts.

Likert Scale Statements

I showed survey-takers a series of statements, and asked them to respond on a scale of agree to disagree. Their answers can be converted to a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 being neutral.

You can see a few of the interesting results below, and any changes from 2017.

It is worth making a note about the bottom left statement “There are a few foundries that are my go-to for fonts. I check their fonts first to see if they have what I need before browsing.” The results of this statement may be misleading. I asked a follow up question to anyone who responded ‘agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ and asked them to name some of their go-to foundries. Instead of naming foundries, most people named type distributors or other websites, not the people or businesses actually making the type. This seems to indicate that there is brand loyalty, but perhaps not necessarily foundry loyalty. Customers probably don’t fully understand the term “foundry” to mean the type designer(s) who make the font, but rather see it as a catch all for anyone selling type. This shouldn’t be a surprise; this is a very specific industry term. It is worth revisiting our use of this term and evaluate if there is something more customer-friendly that we can use.

Perhaps you’re reading this and wondering where the term “foundry” comes from and why we use it. This harkens back to the days of metal type, when fonts were cast in metal in a foundry. I have the job title “Foundry Manager.” When searching for that on LinkedIn, it’s just me and a bunch of people in the metalworking industry!

The results to these statements indicate that people don’t necessarily have positive feelings about font subscription plans, don’t think the process of buying fonts is confusing, somewhat agree that they look for discounted fonts first, and somewhat agree that font licensing is confusing.


There are two questions to determine price points for two common font categories — a workhorse font family and a script font family. The following results are ONLY respondents from the US.

I asked a separate question about discounting:

I think a font must be a lower quality if it is discounted at:

  • 90% off or more
  • 75% off or more
  • 50% off or more
  • 30% off or more
  • Any discount at all.
  • I don’t associate discounting with lower quality fonts.

The most notable results (and compared to last year):

These results indicate that people don’t think of discounted fonts as lower quality. If you want to discount your products, you should do so knowing that the discount by itself won’t contribute to the quality perception for most customers. If you are worried about this at all, stick to discounts lower than 75%.

Keep reading! Check out Part 3/3 here →

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 sexy. The presentation will wrap up with a dive into the customer journey and data-based customer segments.

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.