UK firms back ‘Brand Britain’ for quality and cost

The number of UK businesses willing to pay that little bit extra for British-made products for their quality and environmentally conscious manufacturing processes, chimes with a similar study about global attitudes to ‘Brand Britain’ conducted last year.

Luton-built Vivaro gets new Made in Britain badging (image courtesy of GM Company).
More than half of businesses polled believe their purchasing policies can have a positive impact on the UK economy – image courtesy of GM Company.

The majority ofUK firms prefer to root their purchasing policies a little closer to home believing it to be good for the domestic economy and kinder to the environment – according to a survey conducted on behalf of Made in Britain.

The Buying British report revealed nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are willing to buy British-made commodities “whatever the cost”, echoing similar global sentiments unearthed by Barclays Corporate Banking.

Barclay’s research found consumers in Asia and the Middle East (India, 67%; UAE, 62%; China, 61%) are more inclined to buy a product sporting the Union Jack.

It also found that 39% of international consumers more generally had strong associations of quality with goods made in Britain.

The Buying British report

Nearly 70% of purchasing decision makers from 1,000 UK firms said they would be willing to pay a premium for British-made products, according to Made in Britain, compared to 40% in a survey of 2,000 UK consumers.

More than half of businesses polled believe their purchasing policies can have a positive impact on the UK economy, and almost as many (47%) said products made in this country are “better quality than imported alternatives”.

Seven-in-10 UK firms told Made in Britain they believed that buying more products from the UK could help the nation combat climate change on a net basis.

More than 45% stated they were planning to buy more British products after the UK departs from the European Union, compared to 36% of consumers polled, and two-thirds of UK firms would be “more loyal” to a brand if it was made in Britain.

Made in Britain chief executive officer, John Pearce, said the research showed that Britain’s business community is “standing firmly behind British manufacturing”.

“This is not out of blind patriotism but because they recognise the quality and sustainability of its output, and its positive impact on UK plc,” he added.

More than 80% of companies consider product provenance a “key factor” when making a purchase, compared to 70% of consumers surveyed.

“We found that businesses are much more attuned to the issues of provenance than the consumer on the high street, with companies being more than twice as likely to consider it than the average shopper” said Pearce.

“Brexit will be a challenging time for manufacturers, but with nearly half of businesses we spoke to planning to buy more British-made products after we leave the EU, coupled with the high-esteem British manufacturing is held in by the nation’s private sector, the industry has lots to be encouraged by heading into 2020,” he added.

Place of origin

Brand Britain Made in Britain - image courtesy of Depositphotos
It can sometimes be a “struggle” to determine whether a product is manufactured in the UK – image courtesy of Depositphotos,

Three-quarters of UK firms polled by Made in Britain said they were in favour of buying more British-made products than they currently do, but around a third “struggle” because they are unsure how to determine whether a product is manufactured in the UK.

Whereas two-fifths knew which brands were founded on British soil but not if the products themselves are made in this country.

“While the will is there, sometimes businesses struggle to buy British and at the heart of this is a confusion around origin. There are brands that may have a British heritage but have off-shored their manufacturing. Or, companies headquartered overseas that produce their goods in Britain,” Pearce said.

“This is why our mark exists, so that those making purchasing decisions, whether that’s in a business-to-business environment or in the supermarket, can see a clear ‘stamp of approval’ for quality, British-made products,” he added.

Consumer confidence in Brand Britain abroad

Additional to strong consumer confidence in Asia and the Middle East, Barclays’ global research also found that nearly half (48%) of young people said ‘Brand Britain’ would encourage them to make a purchase, compared to a quarter (24%) of over 55s.

This jumped to almost three-quarters (73%) when looking at 25-34 year olds in China. 

Barclays’ 2018 survey of more than 8,000 people from eight markets (France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, India, China, UAE, the US, and South Africa) also uncovered the most sought-after British goods abroad, and the premiums foreign consumers are prepared to pay.

Food labelled as British-made came top of the list, with international consumers prepared to fork out 22% more for the privilege.

The fashion and automotive sectors were also set to reap the rewards, with cars (10%), clothes (9%) and alcohol (9%) the items that international consumers most consider worth paying a premium for, if they are sporting the Union Jack.


Barclays Brand Britain: Export Opportunities for UK Businesses - Infographic


By Rory Butler, Staff Journalist