It is early in the New Year so please forgive these off the wall musings as being a hangover from too much New Year merriment but I was wondering the other day if there may not be a largely untapped marketing opportunity for metals producers? The world (and I use that term loosely living as I do with one foot in Europe and one in the US knowing that while we all speak the same language we rarely agree on what it means) is moving toward a future in which consumers care about the carbon footprint of the products they buy to the point where they make purchase choices on the basis of that information. Certainly a minority of people already make environmentally based purchasing or lifestyle decisions. Look at the Toyota’s Prius, at US$ 22-27k it has to be a purchase decision made on more than hard economics, but what I am suggesting is a world some years into the future where our opinions have been influenced more profoundly by laws, marketing and the tide of environmental concern such that we will be even more receptive to marketing messages from suppliers of everyday products who can show to us their products consumed less energy in the making than their competitors.
Of course the uptake of such a message will be different in different parts of the world and among different societies. I come back to my earlier reference to the world, Western Europe, Japan, even parts of Asia are further down this road than North America. The willingness of Europe and Japan to adopt cap & trade in spite of the economic damage it will do is an illustration either of those societies willingness to make sacrifices in the interests of what they believe is right for the environment or of voter apathy I’d like to think the former but sometimes I am not sure. The point is whether you are a whole-hearted tree hugging believer in the theories of global warming, a slightly skeptical but still environmentally responsible thinker or a rampant gas guzzling nay-sayer is not really the issue. The world is gradually moving in a certain direction and whether we like it or not our lives will increasingly be impacted by decisions made in the interests of the environment rather than the individual. As a result we will all, herd animals that we are, come to accept the imperative of taking environmental factors into our consideration when making all kinds of decision from buying a new car to buying an electric toothbrush. My point is as this process gathers pace those manufacturers and service providers able to measure, control and articulate the value proposition of their products in terms of carbon emissions will create a competitive advantage for their products in the marketplace. It is no longer enough to say our product consumes less energy in its operation than our competitor. We will have to show that we are actively managing the energy used to make the product and are bringing it down over time.
So much for the idea how would it work in practice? For that you will have to see part two to follow later this morning.