The conscious consumer: Why do so many care about the provenance of products?

Posted on 28 Sep 2018 by Maddy White

Things have changed; consumers now fervently care about the provenance of their products, this is perhaps most evident in the fashion and food industry. But, it has also infiltrated into many more sectors. Why?

Consumers now want to know the origins and journey their products have been on - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Consumers now want to know the origins and journey their products have been on – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Transparency of product supply chains is now more accessible than perhaps ever before.

This due to customers demanding clarity, and technological systems making it possible, like Fashion Enter’s Galaxius system – this can track when and where exact garments are being made in real-time – which you can read about here.

The conscious consumer now wants to know the origins and journey their products have been on. One-third of UK consumers now claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of products. 

But why is this? Air miles, ethical production and sustainability are likely factors as to why end-users now care more, this adding to their overall increased awareness of the products they purchase.

This information has been made more transparent as supply chain data becomes more efficient, sophisticated and exposed. 

Do you care where your smartphone was made? 

It seems though, that there is more focus on goods like food and textile products, than say where iphones or laptops are made.

Do you agree? E-mail: [email protected] with your view

The food and farming industry calls for govt on post-Brexit regulations to recruit enough staff from the EU after Brexit - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Where is your food from? – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

This could be because food for example, is a fast moving consumer good (FMCG). If you try to consider where every item in your weekly food shop is from and the journey your bananas, poultry and cheese selection has taken to get to market, it would probably give you a headache.

Not to mention, cause you to question the necessity to import all of these goods from every corner of the globe. 

Whereas technology, most people only have one phone and are replacing it – according to Statista – in Europe once every 21 months. Therefore, consumers aren’t going to be as focused on where there one Apple iphone – most parts are made and assembled in China – which they use numerous times a day was made.

The same concept could be applied to fashion. One high-end designer purchase could in some people’s opinions be worth more air miles than throwaway fashion, as it is expensive but made in smaller batches, lasts longer, and therefore could be considered more sustainable.

The UK throwaway fashion culture produced often offshore, is fueling a culture of waste, and consumers are – as studies highlight – now more aware of this.

The pull of ‘Brand Britain’ 

Global research from Barclays Corporate Banking revealed earlier this year that 39% of international consumers would be more inclined to buy a product if it displayed the Union Jack.

This was especially true for consumers in Asia and the Middle East (India, 67%; UAE, 62%; China, 61%), who have stronger associations of quality with Brand Britain, according to the research.

An international survey of 8,060 people from eight markets (France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, India, China, UAE, the US, and South Africa) uncovered the most coveted British goods abroad, and the premiums foreign consumers are prepared to pay for ‘Brand Britain’ products.

Flying Tuscan ingredients to the UK and then back

Thames Distillers, was set up little over two decades ago by Charles Maxwell.

Maxwell who has over forty years experience in gin creation sat down with The Manufacturer: “We are currently making a gin for a family in Tuscany, they want everything to be sourced from there.”

Charles Maxwell is pictured.
Charles Maxwell is pictured.

This of course, proves that people want provenance but that they do not care about air miles or sustainability. As they are willing to fly Tuscan ingredients to the UK for manufacture and then transport the products back. Perhaps, this is due to trust in UK manufacturing as a sector?

He added: “Gin is a conversation piece and in terms of flavour delivery – you have an incredible array, which has very distinct differences. People want to talk about it now, they care about what it is and where it is from.”

Consumers care about the origin of their products, particularly when it comes to food, fashion and FMCGs.

This is in part due to a more transparent and exposed supply chain, as data systems are more sophisticated than ever, and in part because of consumers awareness of sustainability and their ‘air miles’.

Brand Britain has a distinct pull, companies are willing to fly specific hand-picked ingredients to the UK for manufacture, this showing the trust in the sector and the importance of product provenance. However, this contradicts the consumer’s now more environmentally friendly outlook.

Supply chains will continue to become entirely transparent, and consumers will continue to demand and expect more from manufacturers, brands and retailers, as the consumer becomes more conscious of supply chains, manufacture, product provenance and environmental impacts.