Aligning Marketing Strategy To Climate Change Effects

With the growing awareness of the issues of climate change, many companies are now starting to look closely at what they need to do and what they need to change.
30 Apr 2016 10:00
Aligning Marketing Strategy To Climate Change Effects
Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle, is becoming a popular vehicle amongst those buying reconditioned/second hand vehicles.

With the growing awareness of the issues of climate change, many companies are now starting to look closely at what they need to do and what they need to change.

This is given Fiji’s total commitment to the Paris decision and the impacts that will have on a great percentage of the things we do and the products we sell.

But the impact on what you are doing currently is only one side of the coin.

An equally important area that will offer great marketing benefits is to search out what opportunities have or will be opened up by the need to mitigate climate change.


Understanding climate


To be in a position to do this, company management needs to truly understand what climate change is all about and exactly what the effects that are considered important to combat if the impact on your business is to be minimised.

There is a great deal of information in the public domain on the subject, in fact there is a virtual avalanche and it grows daily.

But the main media are doing a good job of filtering all the material and presenting the most important information in concise and easily understood portions.

For general management, where a close and detailed scientific understanding is not required, the general media is a very good start point.

There are also a vast number of books, ranging from the broad overview to the very detailed interpretation of a small segment of the issue.

Marketing people around the world are also closely examining the impacts, either to ensure their product is shielded from any negatives or to look for new opportunities that will be created.

In most cases it is in the latter segment where the companies will most likely benefit.


Areas of marketing

I am not an expert on climate change, but there are a number of areas that I am aware of where marketing will be busy.

One of the most active areas will be food security, because many of the traditional food sources will be affected by some of the climate change issues, with the need to provide the same (or hopefully greater) volumes of the different food groups.

Water will be the issue that could have the greatest impact of the country’s food security, both as a means of growing big quantities of vegetable protein and in the availability of water for both human and farm animal consumption.

In the area of vegetable production two areas are being examined, ways to get increased field from an equivalent volume of water or, even better, finding ways to achieve that result with a decreased amount of water.


Impact of food production

In conjunction with this is the question of the impacts the production of food has on the environment, on the land that is used for production, on the overall environment and any special issues for Fiji. One critical issue is the fertilizer used to enhance yield.

This is particularly an issue in island nations where a significant volume of the fertilisers used are not absorbed into the soil but are washed into streams by rainfall runoff and eventually end up in the sea surrounding the island.

Because the majority of fertilizers currently in use in Fiji are mineral based, the residue reduces oxygen levels, which in turn affects the coral reefs by killing off the polyps which constantly rebuild the reef.

The reduced oxygen also reduces the number of fish that the seas close to the islands can support, effectively reducing the food volumes the inshore waters can provide.

There are a number of solutions; the most effective being to have the country move to organic fertilizers, but to get this to happen will require some very good marketing strategies to convince the traditional farmers to change.

There are also opportunities if marketing effort are directed to encouraging crops that produce better in the sorts of environments expected from climate change.

The agriculturalists are working on the development of new varieties of existing crops and on totally new crop types and again this will present opportunities for good marketing.


The opportunities

Climate change will present many opportunities to marketers of products for the home.

As the cost of electricity generation grows and volumes are restricted because of the lack of water in some periods of the year for hydro, consumers will seek significantly more efficient equipment such as refrigerators, washing machines, stoves and other appliances common in the home.

As the equipment changes so will the demand for ancillary products such as detergents and cooking oils.

Many of the activities in the home will require changes to the way things are done, and new products will be needed.

The whole transport market will change; indeed it is already undergoing rapid change in Fiji now. The move to so-called hybrid cars is obvious to everyone who travels on the roads.

The new generation of vehicles that uses significantly less petroleum based fuels such as diesel or petrol have quickly gained market share and there are many more on our roads.

From a climate change viewpoint, the hybrids are good not only because they reduce the demand for mineral based fuels but because they dramatically reduce emission levels of gases harmful to the environment.

Health care is another area where marketing will need to have a new focus. With climate change humans will be exposed to a whole new range of issues related to the changes in the environment.

All forms of skincare products will be needed to protect against the harsher conditions expected as the environment reacts to more dramatic weather events, higher temperatures, lower humidity and stronger sunlight.

New types of bacterial diseases can be expected in the new environment and transmissions are likely to be more rapid than in the past.

Building technologies in Fiji will undergo a number of reviews because of the environmental changes, the more frequent damaging weather events and the need to improve comfort in the home.

Already, after Cyclone Winston, there have been calls for a complete revision of the building codes and with this will come the changing market for building products and components that meet the requirements of the code.


Even bigger changes

With climate change you can be assured that even bigger changes will be seen in the products that meet the new challenges.

And the changes will demand a very focused and strategically tight marketing approach.

The first step for marketing professionals is to understand climate change, its potential impact and the demands this will generate in the market.

And right now is the time to take that step.

nJohn Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him:

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