This article looks into sustainable opportunities that can be seized upon by businesses in the service sector. These tend to be businesses with a lower environmental footprint than other sectors. But as we will see, sustainability is very important for this group of businesses.

london 1

In the UK, the service sector is especially important. This sector accounts for 79% of UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The decline in the numbers of people working in manufacturing and the increase in the numbers of service sector workers is part of a long-term trend. The number of service sector workers overtook the number of manufacturing workers in 1881. This surprised me as I would have thought that it would have happened later than that.

Unsurprisingly, London is dominated by service businesses, with this sector accounting for 91% of the city’s economy.

Whilst the UK’s economy is particularly dominated by the service sector, as the graph below shows, this is a trend that is seen across the G7 countries.

services sector by country (ONS)

Let’s now turn to two sustainable opportunities that service sector businesses should seize upon.

1. Sustainable procurement

Because of the nature of service sector businesses, they will typically have less sustainability variables to manage directly than businesses in other sectors.

What this means, is that your service sector business needs to be bulletproof in its supply chain sustainability. There is no excuse for service sector businesses to have poor sustainability within their supply chain.

Businesses in the service sector depend on inputs from the manufacturing and primary sectors. These need to be selected with sustainability in mind. The new paradigm of sustainability and corporate responsibility dictates that even though you did not produce these inputs, if you purchase them and use them within your business, you are responsible for their sustainability credentials.

Sustainable procurement also offers the opportunity to look for suppliers who are local and who are SME’s. Some consumers may be willing to pay a small premium for these products or display a higher level of brand loyalty.

Sustainable procurement should be seen as partly a risk reduction measure. But it is also about seizing on the opportunity to be the sustainable service provider of choice.

2.  Create green consumers

The marketing channel is an excellent avenue for sustainability. Maybe you have green consumers already, which is a good thing. But if you do not, then it is possible to create them through marketing of sustainability.

You can promote your own and your supplier’s sustainability success stories. These should be short, neatly packaged stories that people can connect with.

You can use communications to demonstrate how the actions you are taking make your consumers environmental footprint smaller.

You can also engage in cause related marketing. This is where a company’s marketing is directly aligned with a charity or cause and each purchase provides a certain amount of benefit to the worthy recipient. This can build reciprocity between the consumer and the business and is an example of a win-win-win outcome. The business wins through sales, the consumer wins as they feel they are making a difference and the charity wins through funding and a raised profile.

All of the techniques discussed help to make your services desirable and memorable. You really can create green consumers.

What you need to know  

This article looked into sustainable opportunities in the services sector.

We looked into how the services sector dominates the UK and other advanced industrial economies.

We looked into how sustainable procurement can make you the sustainable service provider of choice.

We also looked into how through marketing of sustainability, you can create green consumers.

All sectors have a responsibility to help make sustainability happen. The priorities in the services sector a slightly different, but the end state remains the same.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think are the key sustainable opportunities in the services sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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