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Make the most of being made in Britain and fuel the nation’s recovery

Image credit: Air Control Industries

As the UK begins the gradual road to recovery British manufacturers should be proud to fly the flag for the nation. And in this new climate of public support with demand for buying British at an all-time high, now is the time to shout about product provenance to keep the wheels of industry turning. The sooner we buy more Made in Britain products, the sooner we can rebuild better and greener in the post Brexit, pandemic economy.

The UK economy suffered its biggest slump during the three months from April to June with lockdown measures pushing the country officially into recession for the first time in over a decade. The easing of restrictions and social distancing is thankfully seeing shops reopen, homebuilding continuing to recover, factories ramping up production and businesses increasing output to meet demand as consumer confidence returns. 

While we are facing unquestionably challenging times with further hardship ahead, there are encouraging signs that indicate we are gradually on the road to recovery. In June the economy grew 8.7 per cent and 6.6 per cent in July according to the ONS, with the rebound largely driven by construction, retail and hospitality. While a small uptick, things are moving in the right direction and July GDP was 18.6 per cent higher than its April 2020 low.

So, what can we do to help fuel the recovery? Made in Britain conducted its annual ‘Buying British’ survey speaking to consumers and businesses to understand purchasing motivations and to examine how the pandemic is changing shopping habits and attitudes towards British goods.

The results were unequivocal – we are keener than ever to buy more British-made products to support UK retailers, manufacturers and producers. And many of us are willing to pay a premium to do so.

Two-thirds of consumers and three-quarters of businesses are more likely to buy British goods than before the coronavirus outbreak. Eight in ten businesses and consumers would happily pay more for products made in this country, while two-fifths of consumers and two-thirds of businesses would prefer to buy British regardless of cost.

Goods made in Britain have long been, and continue to be, synonymous with quality and reliability. Britain also has among the highest consumer standards in the world and buying British is better for the environment so it’s not surprising to see a preference for products manufactured or sourced locally. 

This clear demonstration of public support is of course extremely welcome. However, it is important to emphasise there is a risk this renewed determination to boost the economy could remain unfulfilled. 

While we are happy to pay more for goods made on British soil, around eight in ten consumers and the same proportion of businesses admit to wanting to buy more British products than they already do. The reason they don’t is down to confusion over product origin with four in ten consumers unable to tell if a product is British-made.

When asked about their current car, for instance, 37 per cent claimed to know the country that owns the brand but not where the model was built. This comes against a backdrop of some of our biggest car brands such as Mini or Range Rover being owned by foreign companies.

With demand for buying British soaring, now is the time for UK producers and manufacturers to harness this opportunity and shout about their products’ provenance to keep the wheels of industry turning. 

To help cut through the confusion around product origin, manufacturers should make it as easy as possible for consumers and businesses to identify and buy British. The registered Made in Britain accreditation, for example, certifies a product’s country of origin while also recognising the producer’s ethical and sustainable business practices. 

In this new climate of public support and with consumers and businesses actively seeking out British-made items, the official Made in Britain mark on products, packaging and websites could make the world of difference and could also serve to help keep the many small business owners and makers that make up such a large proportion of our workforce in this country in jobs.

With the majority of British consumers and businesses willing to play their part through patriotic purchases to help boost UK businesses, it’s more important than ever that British manufacturers and producers make the most of this drive to back British and celebrate being Made in Britain.

Members feature in a directory used by consumers and procurement professionals to source British-made products and receive sales, marketing, export and PR support including through dedicated events hosted by specialists in these fields. Members are also invited to participate in working groups to network and to share knowledge and best practice. Made in Britain recently opened up its membership to digital makers. To find out more about Made in Britain visit: https://www.madeinbritain.org 

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