EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the answers have been edited.
13 August 2020 - buying British
Question one: 74 per cent of UK procurement decision-makers agree that they are more likely to buy British products post-COVID. Do British manufacturers need to invest more in: a) procurement to find British products; b) marketing to make their own products more visible; c) both?
Response: “Marketing definitely, though not necessarily the more traditional methods they are used to. One expensive advert in a trade journal once a year and an exhibition isn't going to cut it really.”
Response: “Marketing to make the benefits and reasons to buy their own products more visible. Simply marketing a product today is a waste of time; what your product does for your customer is the only message people want to hear.”
Response: “Both. I think it’s important to invest more in British products and also work to sell-our own British-made products.”
Response: “Definitely both. I'd say that done well, marketing is a way of investing in procurement by educating the decision-makers. A smart way to spend money when you need it to work twice as hard for you.”
Response: “Procurement is people. They are your customers unless you build the end product. Understand them and educate them through building relationships and comms. Speak their language. What is their customer journey? Make it easy.”
Response: “In the Post-Pandemic era, if I were a British manufacturer I wouldn't expect to have to invest a penny in 'finding' British products. Potential British suppliers should be beating a path to my door, shouldn't they?”
Response: “A marry of the two is a win-win. Finding routes to market #british to procurement teams is the BIGGEST win.”
Response: “We need both. Marketing can be really powerful in telling the story and making it more than just about bottom line price.”
Response: “Both, for sure. We purchase within the UK wherever possible, but we can't purchase from a business if we don't know about them.”
Response: “Delivering both would secure at another level. Marketing is the voice but procurement is the powerhouse.”
Response: “Many would be surprised how many manufacturers there are in the UK. An advantage is the short supply chain, smaller regular, call off contracts can be organised.”
Response: “Agree, so much easier to manage shorter supply chains, especially local ones. This becomes much more apparent when issues/change/further comms are needed. Not only keeps it simple and organised but avoids hidden costs.”
Response: “It does not take long to pop down the road to meet up and look at any changes. A flight to China is costly and there are many hidden costs. Interpreters, visas, accommodation. You don't always fix the problem either.”
Question two: A third of UK procurement decision-makers say the crisis has sparked game-changing strategies that will carry the business through the pandemic and beyond. What game-changing strategies have you made/seen that will remain in place once the pandemic is over?
Response: “Unfortunately, a great number of employers in all sectors discovered during lockdown, that they employed more people than they needed to. The lockdown period (and just after) created a lot of ingenuity in looking at 'why' processes existed instead of 'how'.”
Response: “We have expanded capacity and worked tirelessly to increase productivity over the last few months, also introducing more technology into our factory.”
Response: “Systems have been looked at again and again and again and this minute focus across CIM will stay with us.”
Response: “Nothing game-changing but lots of efficiency improvements, refocus on what is essential/important. More in tune with costs and waste.”
Response: “A few smart company leaders asking ‘What will we learn?’ instead of ‘What will we do?’ or ‘What will we build?’ Better questioning of ‘Why do we... ?’ instead of ‘How can we do it better?’"
Response: “Supply chain resilience is much more a priority - being able to procure and sell no matter what; a heavier focus on self-owned online sales channels; re-evaluation of how to work remotely.”
Response: “Working through third-party sales platforms - ebay/Amazon, you are exposed to their rules. Often at a disadvantage. Your own sales online channel is under your control.”
Response: “Building resilient supply chains is so important to keep production going. Some of our customers faced communication challenges from social distancing which were overcome by new tech.”
Response: “I see a far greater interest in investing in automation - or at least planning to do it once the conditions allow. Also, a change to higher inventory levels than has been the norm, and recognising that as a worthwhile use of working capital.”
Response: “We were improving our productivity and process flow prior to the pandemic. This has been a good opportunity to make good progress in a short space of time. We are now more efficient and we'll use this approach again in the future.”
Response: “We are also seeing some businesses now look at the option of a direct-to-consumer model.”
Response: “We are seeing businesses reviewing their operational processes and looking at how they better support their staff who have been and will continue to work remotely.”
Question three: 71 per cent of British consumers agree that buying more products made in Britain could help the UK to combat climate change. What is your business doing to reduce the impact on the environment and how do you communicate this to the consumer?
Response: “We recycle (sadly not the coffee pods). Consolidate shipments. Reuse boxes, pallets etc. I've set the printers to duplex (much to everyone's annoyance). Work with local supply chains where possible.”
Response: “A powerful action any company can take in this regard, is to assume some responsibility for what happens to their product once it leaves them. How can the product be disposed of, repurposed, recycled? What does the consumer do with the packaging?”
Response: “We’re really proud of repeatedly securing ISO 14001 (on all our print) and our ‘green’ team and CIM teamwork in collaboration to ensure we hit targets. A new dedicated factory floor recycling zone has just been installed as part of our efforts.”
Question four: Almost four in ten consumers can’t tell when a product is British made. What advice would you give to manufacturers, retailers and marketing teams to help improve this?
Response: “For the last 40 years we have been absorbed into the star-spangled EU flag requirement of funding. It is now time to get the British flag out and remind ourselves and others who we are.”
Response: “Your logo, the UK and our branding encourage the consumer to think about their purchase. It cannot be forced enough.”
Response: “Making "Made in Britain" stand out will help, but it runs deeper. If the goal is to make your customers aware, then every decision in every department needs to support it. Make the brand/product actually feel British so that people don't even have to look.”
Response: “If only there was an organisation to join to help promote British products… ”
Response: “Advertising in the UK tends to promote the British company, but not the place of manufacture. I've recently bought what I thought was a British product only to find in the small print that it was made in China. The #madeinbritain logo should be more important than the company.”
Response: “Is this a trick question? Join Made in Britain of course!”
Response: “The MiB mark is plastered over everything it can be, we’re working up new USPs across sales and marketing and #madeinbritain is key. We also thrive on local and our factories in #Cornwall and #Kent are marketed for this too. Keep waving flag everyone.”
Question five: 40 per cent of British consumers believe that British products are of better quality than imported products. What can manufacturers (and others) do to improve this perception?
Response: “Perception is in a unified delivery of the message. It should be the mission of British companies to portray the quality of Made in Britain. German industrialists have been maintaining their customers’ perception for 70 years.”
Response: “Turn perception into reality by designing and manufacturing brilliant products each and every time (as we do) here in #Hayes.”
Response: “Having the #MadeInBritain brand is something we believe everyone should use.”
Response: “We pride ourselves in the quality of the product (Meltblown absorbent) that we supply from up here in sunny Oldham!”
Response: “Make the very best quality product you can, each time, every time, consistently, always. BUT keep in every employee’s mind that 'product quality perception' can be altered by supporting first-rate items with a second rate customer pre- and post-sales service.”
Response: “It would be fascinating to see how this perception varies across different product types, and how it compares to the genuine difference in quality.”
Response: “Make British goods affordable. Quality yes, but some people are not able to afford the products which is a shame. How can imported cheap stuff be cost-effective when it involves the extra cost of shipping and transporting etc. when British-made goods are made on home soil?”
Response: “Carry on excelling in quality, embrace ISO 9001, enforce core values, sing quality and ensure all comms across sales, purchasing, marketing, HR through to dispatch represent that quality and value. Embodying these values enables the customer to recognise them.”
This week's questions were based on the findings of the annual Made in Britain Buying British survey. Click here to read the results of our B2B survey and here to read our consumer survey. Follow Made in Britain on Twitter here.