UK companies misuse design

UK businesses are investing nearly £27bn a year in design but are failing to exploit its power as a business tool, according to the Design Council’s most in-depth survey of the profession.

Some £26.7bn is invested in design, either in-house or with a consultancy, which accounts for almost three per cent of businesses’ total corporate turnover. Nearly 20 per cent of the total design spend, £4.5bn, is on external consultancies.

But Design Council chief executive Andrew Summers says despite the encouraging results, design must be placed at the centre of a company’s activities if its full potential as a powerful strategic tool is to be realised.

“The survey reveals that companies which have got this message will profit most from design. Too many businesses still employ design as a peripheral add-on to be used only in very specific circumstances. Inevitably, they are getting less out of their design investments,” he says.

Financial and business services sectors spend the most on design, £8.7bn, followed by construction, transport, storage and communications at £6.3bn. The manufacturing sector spends £5.1bn.

The research shows design is increasingly being seen as essential to the bottom line: 54 per cent say design contributes to higher profits and turnover, and 46 per cent say it has helped increase their market share. Nearly 58 per cent say they use design as a strategic business tool.

Big business, which is defined as companies employing 200 people or more, recognises the worth of design and invests £5bn in it. But companies employing fewer than 20 people, which together spend over £11bn on design, do not place as much importance on its value. Only one in three admit it contributes to profits.

The research reveals that one million people are employed working part or full-time in the corporate design sector.

The survey is based on interviews with 700 chief executives or heads of design by Public Corporate Economic Consultants.

<b>UK Design spend by corporate sector </b>
Agriculture and extractive £1.7bn
Manufacturing £5.1bn
Construction, transport, storage and communications £6.3bn
Consumer services £4.9bn
Financial and business services £8.7bn
Total £26.7bn

UK Design spend by corporate sector

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