The sustainability agenda is on an upward trend among manufacturing supply chains. According to recent research, approximately half of UK businesses are planning to increase the amount they spend on sustainable practices – with an HSBC survey finding nearly 30 per cent of business growth is a result of a focus on sustainability.
What is sustainable manufacturing?
Sustainability is very much a buzzword in 2022, but many successful manufacturing businesses already recognise the importance of sustainable practices both to reduce negative ecological impacts and increase long-term profitability.
‘Sustainable manufacturing’ aims to create products using methods that minimise environmental damage by cutting pollution and waste, maximise the value of materials and labour, conserving natural resources and energy and protecting employees or consumers through safe practices.
Environmental and business benefits – how sustainability can make you more profitable
The principles of efficiency, recycling, and waste reduction resonate with business decision-makers, with research demonstrating that over 60 per cent of Gen Y/Millennials (the 30 to 40-year-old age group that includes many high-level technical engineers, project managers, and procurement professionals) are prepared to pay more for sustainable products. Sustainability is becoming a strong hallmark of quality, and from a customer perspective, it makes good business sense to work with a provider with a proven commitment to streamlined and efficient production processes.
For B2B businesses, sustainable manufacturing is not simply an ethical position or production strategy, but also an active way of increasing your market share and making more sales with key buyer demographics.
How to market your business as a sustainable manufacturer
Sustainable products are, in some cases, more expensive to manufacture. This is for several reasons: raw materials are harder and more costly to source; more time-consuming and complex manufacturing processes may be required; and the ethos of sustainability needs to be reflected in all stages of the product life cycle, including shipping.
“Our products cost more because of sustainable manufacturing” is, however, a difficult basis for a sales pitch, regardless of how committed your customers are to sustainability.
When incorporating sustainability messages into your marketing strategy, the key to gaining a competitive advantage is to explain how these processes improve quality and reliability and help customers obtain compliance in their own sphere of operations.
Sustainability gives you greater flexibility over your prices
Much is made of the costs of implementing a sustainable manufacturing strategy, but in many cases, the investments required to improve sustainability (equipment, training, new processes etc) are one-off outlays that repay themselves over time. In fact, the efficiency and saving benefits of sustainability ventures – as well as the positive marketing value – are often enough to generate a very positive ROI over the life cycle of the initiative.
This, in turn, gives manufacturers greater freedom over product prices, which is great for customers and is a strong marketing message in a highly price-conscious economy. Long-term, sustainable manufacturing can generate lower costs for both supply chain partners and consumers because of more efficient and productive practices.
Sustainable manufacturing will help to futureproof your business
The UK's 2050 net zero strategy guarantees that sustainability will be on the agenda for at least the next 30 years, irrespective of changing economic conditions. The businesses that embrace sustainability are those that plan to be around for the long term. When talking about sustainability in your marketing content, you can use this to demonstrate the foresight and viability of your business, and your reliability as a service provider. A business that takes a long view of sustainability and investment is one that can be depended on to deliver services today.
Sustainable manufacturing gives you a reputation for innovation
Sustainable manufacturing involves investing in innovation to remain compliant and profitable, and innovation is closely associated in the minds of buyers with better quality, faster delivery, and lower prices. This is an excellent point to make in your marketing communications. By engaging in sustainable manufacturing practices and investing in continual service improvement, businesses can trial and evaluate product innovations that use fewer resources or meet specific social needs.
Find out more
At Marketing for Manufacturers, we can help you to make sustainability a key element of your marketing strategy, improving your business’s visibility as an environmentally friendly and cost-conscious organisation.
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