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An Insight into Sustainability and Sourcing Trends

An Insight into Sustainability and Sourcing Trends

Sarah Ward Spoke yesterday at a webinar hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council on Sourcing Sustainable, here was Sarah's opening intro from our industry

I want to start off by stressing that sustainability is not a trend. We all have a responsibility to live and work more sustainably now, and into the future. We need to learn from each other about how our businesses can make small, incremental changes to improve the impact we make on the environment.

As CEO of the Giftware Association, I have certainly seen a major, positive shift over the last few years in the giftware, home, and creative sectors. These shifts are driven by consumer behaviour as well as environmental and industry demands.

So, here are some stats from Mintels 2022 sustainable barometer:

·         In the UK 39% of consumers were concerned over extreme weather events

·         53% also feel that if we act now, we can still save the planet

·         51% believe that their behaviour can make a positive difference to the environment

·         20% of consumers bought/will buy products that certify to pay fair wages

An insight into sustainability and sourcing trends is visible through our Gift of the Year competition. The Giftware Association added in an ethical and sustainable category 4 years ago and it has been the fastest growing category ever since. In fact, a determining factor in other categories for many of the judges has been a product or brand’s sustainable credentials, so it is driving change. Interestingly, over 50% of entrants’ products and companies have a sustainable story whether that’s through discernible sourcing or the decision a business takes in its new product development. Our view is that we will see further growth as consumers’ mindsets change and companies will need to further develop. Our retailers who judge the competition, make it very clear that they are looking for more sustainable products as they are further influenced by the end consumer.

As you know, this year we took over the Creative Industries Association, and we have been working hard bringing this new market sector into our fold and understanding how we grow together. Here are some stats we pulled together because of this work, which you may find interesting:

·         From a survey of 2000+ crafters 73% of the buyers try to support local/small businesses when buying

·         52% always try to buy British made products when they can for crafting

·         Of 100+ suppliers and shops surveyed in 2021 there was a 9% increase, up to 29% who provided crafters with environmentally friendly choices

·         Minimising excess packaging grew from 19% in 2020 to 30% in 2021

·         In 2020 just 13% kept up to date with environmental trends but in 2021 this rose to 20%

·         19% of businesses in our sector are open and transparent about their sourcing

·         Minimising environmental damage via manufacturing processes rose by 6% to 15% in 2021

I think it is key to note here that we have seen a rise in our industry of businesses wanting to reflect sustainability within their company practices. Take one of our members Talking Tables who have just acquired their B Corp status. They join a growing number of companies reinventing business by pursuing purpose as well as profit. We would see this growing within our sectors over the next few years.

When sourcing, the industry has been affected by the pandemic and challenges such as the closure of borders. There has also been an increase in fluid, digital platforms allowing for sourcing to be done remotely, negating the need for travel. This demonstrates an ability to cut back on some of the travel and carbon footprint raised this way, as well as being able to build relationships through the increased use of technology.

From a meeting last week discussing sourcing, it was key to note that a lot of sourcing countries have already adapted sustainable practices and are further willing to learn from the companies who source from them. It’s this willingness that probably isn’t always in the eye of the end consumer, which is where we have seen storytelling become so important - where has my product been sourced, what technologies have been used, the process and methods? I

A question I am being asked all the time is whether our Industry still finds sourcing further afield can often be more sustainable than working closer to home. I would be keen to know your thoughts on this.

So, to end, the key take-away from us when researching sustainability is that there are more businesses who have it in their strategy than those who haven’t started yet. And if you haven’t started yet, how will you effectively compete in this changing market?


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