Despite the British High Street being squeezed by the economic downturn, competitive price pressures, increased costs and consumer caution, the UK retail industry registered over £380 billion in sales in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics. However, with ever-changing customer demands, business owners must work hard to win customer loyalty, adapt, innovate, increase productivity and strengthen their market position.
A YouGov report shows that 27 per cent of the UK population will only buy products from brands where they identify with their ethics and values. This is leaving businesses having to rethink their processes and practices.
For example, animal testing is now globally frowned upon, leaving the beauty industry seeking innovate ways to develop new testing methods, such as cell cultures, or undertaking tests with human skin samples.
The demand for more plant based products is also on the rise, with many businesses finding new ways to eradicate animal by-products from their cosmetics.
Sustainability is another hot topic on the innovation agenda, with consumers demanding products which do less to harm the environment. This is spurring fashion businesses to rethink their production processes for example, such as reducing the amount of liquid dye they use and eradicating the need for the millions of wasted litres of water used in the production process.
Also, to remain relevant and reduce their carbon footprint, businesses are working hard to seek out new and exciting ways to incorporate eco-friendly processes into their design, production and distribution channels.
With this significant shift toward conscious consumerism and the changing buyer environment, retailers which don’t innovate run the risk of being left behind. Investing in innovation is key for the industry and the UK government acknowledges this, by encouraging businesses across the country to adapt and drive change.
If your business is investing in research and development (R&D) by creating new and innovative products and processes, you may well be missing out on a valuable government incentive offering money back for expenditure on these projects. You don’t necessarily have to create something entirely new – and even failed projects and loss-making companies can make a claim.
You may also wish to view our R&D Tax Relief – Recent wins for our clients Spring 2019 update.