Contemporary consumers have higher expectations of the companies they patronize than ever before. With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, accessibility to technological resources has become instantaneous. Anyone can look up a product or service quickly on his or her mobile device and compare these with the offerings of competitors, in addition to reading other consumers' experiences with a given brand. This trend means that the average customer is far more educated than in the past, and the burden is on companies to prove that they can keep pace with demand.
Cutting-edge products go mainstream
These developments have direct implications for manufacturing procurement within the consumer product market. One of the primary areas of concern attracting an increasing amount of customers' attention is environmental impact, and as such, sustainable sourcing is on the minds of a growing number of companies.
The importance of adopting green practices is evidenced by the popularity of eco-friendly products that were once looked on as mere fads and must now be taken seriously. According to Sustainable Business, Ward's Automotive recently reported that sales of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the United States nearly broke the 100,000 mark in 2013. The Nissan Leaf accounted for almost a quarter of these sales, with 22,610 cars sold. The increase in EV sales from two years prior - only 18,000 of the vehicles were purchased by consumers in 2011 - is dramatic.
These vehicles are becoming much more affordable than they were when they debuted. The price for the Ford Focus EV is falling $4,000 to $35,200, while GM's Volt will cost $5,000 less in 2014. This means that while electric vehicles still make up only a small component of the automotive market, they're becoming both more popular and more accessible.
Investing in innovative production strategies
But the auto industry isn't the only sector that needs to find creative ways to blend sustainable products with enterprise agility and adaptability. Food Manufacturing recently spotlighted salad dressing and beverage producer Bolthouse Farms and its efforts to try out new products at a facility devoted to innovation in Bakersfield, Calif. The firm's recent purchase by Campbell Soup has provided it with a wider range of resources.
"[Campbell] has a lot of resources, a lot of back-of-house technology that are really going to help [Bolthouse] jump from a small-sized company to a medium-sized company," Todd Putman, Bolthouse's chief marketing officer, told the news source.
At the facility, the company can ensure that its raw materials - namely, sustainably sourced vegetables - are being made into marketable products and thus driving profit.