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The supply and demand of saving the planet

Our time with nature as a home is running out and we need to see it as precious rather than a commodity, writes Aaron McFeely, Lead Strategist at Space.

Aaron McFeely, Space

Lead Strategist

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For the best part of a century, the Oppenheimer family controlled one of the world’s most lucrative industries by stockpiling the vast majority of the world’s diamonds. In conjunction with a clever marketing campaign, Oppenheimer, who owned diamond atelier & retailer De Beers, flipped the perception of a stone to become valued wildly more than its instrumental worth. It is now fairly common knowledge that instead of making money by selling the diamonds at volume, De Beers manufactured value by limiting the supply of diamonds into the market.

This manipulated scarcity maybe key to how businesses can help market ‘nature’ as it becomes clearer that if we want a world to live in, we need to save it. Our time with nature as a home is running out and we need to see it as precious rather than a commodity.

The phrase Climate Crisis and constant reports citing little more than a decade to halt irreparable change is shocking, but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, it’s news that we already know. The issue is that we are running compassion fatigue. We are losing empathy with the tragedy, because it largely feels like a systematic problem which needs to be addressed by corporations and governments and the reports conflict with our experience of nature being readily available. While this is true, demand from people needs to be created, and until recently we thought we had nature to waste.

We can’t let our time be defined by the truth that you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.

Aaron McFeely

How can we create value in nature?

Making nature valuable doesn’t exclusively mean talking about its benefits. We know that nature is good for us; for our minds, as a home, for quality of life, and yet nothing seems to convince people to engage with it enough to demand its rescue. The issue doesn’t lie in trying to convince people how great nature is but rather through shocking people into realising that it isn’t infinite.

De Beers prevented diamonds becoming a commodity. Supreme, Nike, Hermés and co. release limited stock, or make it cryptically impossible to access products through appointments which have no obvious process. The allure of the brand is inherent because it is restricted. 

It seems hard to imagine that this could apply to nature, but COVID proved the power of supply and demand. Lockdown, when it hit in March, immediately cut us off from the natural spaces that we took for granted because it has always been present; open your door, nature was there. The climate crisis wasn’t affecting our relationship with the outdoors, we could have as much of it as we wanted. Only once its supply was limited to one walk a day did people start reassessing what it meant to them.

This formed the insight for the latest campaign which Space created with Nature Valley, who are on a mission to get people out more. We wanted people to see what they were missing so we capitalised on a renewed desire to connect people with their surroundings which had been taken for granted. The result was a supply and demand strategy which amplified people’s relationship with nature.

Use it or lose it, if you will. 

Protect as we sell

Our idea, #VISITNATURE, became a tourism campaign for nature, creating a desire to get outside and see what we’ve been missing. The discoveries that people made because they hadn’t been commodifying, and therefore ignoring, the great outdoors were wonderous and woke people up to what’s out there. This is a step towards creating a bond between humans and nature if we reframe its value, rather than solely trying to sell its benefits.

This doesn’t free industry and governments of their responsibility to act on rescuing our home, but if people value something that will inevitably be stripped from them, they are more likely to put pressure on systematic stewardship. Brands, as they contribute to culture, can write a narrative that stops commodifying nature and makes it something that people want to connect with, and desire for generations to come.

The lesson for brands and marketeers is that we have a platform to change the world positively, but we need to protect as aggressively as we sell. Not only that, but there is no platform to profit from if we don’t act to save our home. By following in De Beers strategic footsteps, we can make every person on the planet want nature as much as they do diamonds. We should make people frenzied in their desire to have a relationship with nature by realising its impending scarcity.

We can’t let our time be defined by the truth that you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.  

Guest Author

Aaron McFeely, Space

Lead Strategist,

About

Aaron McFeely is Lead Strategist at London-based, independent creative agency, Space. Aaron works across the agency’s diverse client list including William Grant & Sons, General Mills and Polestar. His passion lies in solving problems with creativity that goes beyond category conventions to make brands more relevant, distinctive and memorable.

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