What do visiting manufacturers to the W14 exhibition in October hope to find? One obvious answer might be ‘a great deal’ – and indeed every business in the UK has to be watching costs. Equally though, shrewd visitors are in search of ways of adding difference to their product.

The marketers stuffily call it ‘product differentiation’. Sales people think they know it as USP. In fact, making the difference is a common sense way to avoid competing purely on price. Unless you live in a different society to the UK, it is no longer possible to win a race to the bottom when it comes to price – and it is certainly not the way forward for manufacturing to grow in the UK.

Time then to look to the national flair for innovation and design. Add that to a sophisticated manufacturing capability and UK PLC is again in business. Thankfully, we have already done so and now our manufacturing sector leads with product excellence rather than sole emphasis on the price tag.

Furniture manufacturers well placed
Furniture manufacture is an obvious candidate for adding real value in this way. Most furniture could, in theory, be some combination of the proverbial orange box, either to put things on, or in. Of course, as intelligent beings, that is never really going to happen – rarely are we going to be satisfied with orange boxes. We want our things to work better and we want them to be valued for the pleasure they give us. We definitely don not want lots of people to have the same thing – ideally we want our stuff to be unique.

To show just how much we want that difference, we’ll pay for it. Anything connected with our houses, cars – interests tend to head the list of where we’ll pay to stand out in a good way. That then is your opportunity as a furniture or joinery manufacturer. Couple that to a rising economy, people tired of austerity and you are in a good position to profit.

More good news: there is no need to hire brilliant designers to take up space in your office. This is an industry fully aware that it has one foot in the fashion game – component and materials have constantly invested in products literally designed to make a difference. With so many major suppliers from this sector booked for W14, a wander around the halls is all you need to transform your product range – or even create new possibilities. Good components and materials cannot only ensure your own finished items sell, they can also be sure to do great things for your margins.

W14 helps you make the difference
As we know, W14 is about more than a huge range of materials and components. It’s also packed full of the latest in machinery – equally ready to make the difference to your products. Advances in machinery have made high tech production capability affordable and accessible for enterprising manufacturers. In turn this can change the nature and scope of the product you can make. Opportunities abound as new material processing brings opportunities to ‘make the difference’ in what is being worked and how.

More than ever, the exhibition this year is free consultancy for your business. The halls are packed with ways to make a difference, you simply have to pick out what is right for you. Expertise and creativity will be on hand to give practical assistance and advice – covering everything from materials, components and machinery.

A day spent at W14 will show you how to make the difference which will improve the margins on your products. Make it valuable. Make it unique. Make it better. W14 is built around bringing you these benefits.