UK consumer backlash against offshoring
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The British public would rather pay more and buy British, than get cheaper goods and services produced offshore, according to new research published by sourcingfocus.com today. Despite the credit crunch, only one in four consumers are happy for goods and services to be handled outside the UK, even if it makes them cheaper for consumers.
The online survey, conducted by ICM amongst consumers, aimed to establish changing consumer attitudes to outsourcing and offshoring at a time of economic downturn. Consumers responded on a scale of one to ten how happy they would be for various services to be offshored if it saved them money; the results were unanimously anti-offshoring. Consumers are most adamant that call centres should be kept in the UK – 59 percent of respondents were the most unhappy that they could be (a ten rating) at call centres being offshored, whilst a massive 79 percent were unhappy (rating 8-10) with call centres being handled outside of the UK. Only 6 percent were happy (3 percent very happy) to have call centres handled offshore.
Even functions that have routinely been completed outside of Britain for years – processes that are seemingly invisible to the UK public - are not safe from the backlash. Only 15 percent of respondents were very happy for electronic goods to be manufactured offshore, even if it made them cheaper, whilst just 13 percent were very happy for clothes to be made offshore.
Other interesting findings from the research are:
• Young people are most happy with services being offshored, with 52 percent of the 18-24 age range happy to accept offshoring services if it saves them money.
• Offshore call centres are exceptionally unpopular, with only 6 percent happy to see call centres offshored, even if it saved costs. The Scots are particularly adamant in this area, with only 1 percent happy to have call centres offshored, even if it saves them money.
• Women are more anti-offshoring than men. 64 percent of women would prefer to pay more for goods and services and keep them based in the UK as opposed to 55 percent of men. Only 22 percent of women would be happy for services to be handled outside of the UK, even if it lowers cost.
• Only 20 percent of those from the lowest social class are happy to pay for services to be handled outside the UK, even if it makes it cheaper for them. This is the lowest of any social class.
Chris Middleton, editor of sourcingfocus.com, commented: “It’s official: consumers – that’s men and women from across all walks of life, within all age groups, and in every part of the UK – hate offshoring. And the more information-based the offshore service is, particularly call centres, the more they dislike it. Businesses spend millions of pounds every year researching customer attitudes in an effort to prove that the offshore call centre experience somehow adds value to the brand; our research suggests this is questionable.”
Martyn Hart, Chairman of the National Outsourcing Association (NOA), the trade association for the outsourcing industry, commented: “This research makes unhappy reading for those within the outsourcing industry and particularly those with an interest in offshoring. The lack of consumer acceptance of offshoring – a process that is good for British business – is worrying and further education is obviously needed.
Offshoring is growing and diversifying. Many large companies will outsource a variety of processes to several offshore locations and consumers seem to tar all of these with one negative brush. Many of our members are suppliers delivering an excellent service to clients – it is about time these gained proper recognition.”