Apocalyptic Innovation

by Peter Doyle

paramount pictures - NoahI am a huge fan of Russell Crowe, second in my regard only to Matt Damon as the leading actor of our time. So, I am looking forward to seeing the movie “Noah”, and have been reading the reviews.  Seems the movie is a metaphor for catastrophic climate change. The timing of the release for the movie coincides with that of the new IPCC Climate Report.

The report from press articles presents an apocalyptic vision of the future. Due to the extreme weather events that happened in the last few years, the typhoon in the Philippines,  droughts in Australia, Texas, California and parts of Africa, the bitterly cold winter in the Eastern United States along with the hurricane that hit New York and New Jersey, there are many fewer skeptics than there were a few years ago. I imagine we will soon be seeing the reappearance of the prophet of climate doom and gloom, Al Gore appearing on different media forums to spread his Jeremiahs. What many see as crisis, others see as opportunity.

In the decades ahead, as the glaciers and ice caps disappear along with much of Florida, investing in real estate in Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada maybe a really smart move. But what might be even smarter is to take note of the folks called “Preppers”, better know as survivalists, whom many once thought of as wing-nuts, crazies, wackos or other pejoratives, but not any more.

Last fall, I had an inquiry from a start up company that sells products to Survivalists. These once marginal groups are becoming more mainstream.  Their numbers are growing fast, and so are the opportunities in this marketplace. At one time it was only possible to obtain survivalist supplies at specially held events, military surplus stores, through word of mouth or mail order. While doing some market research for this prospective client, I discovered that there are around 3.5 to 4 million of these survivalists in the US and they spend billions of dollars a year getting ready for the end of the world as we know it now. It is not just spent on guns and ammo, most goes to buying ready-to-eat meals, power generators, communication and electronic equipment, clothes, medicines and building shelters.  In fact, the very stuff anyone would need in the aftermath of a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane or the extreme climate change events forecast by 98% of the world’s climate scientists from hundreds of countries.

So now when I check to see what is happening in the survivalist market space, and there are hundreds of blogs, here are a couple of links worth checking out these sites, survivalistboards.com and survivaltop50.com. More and more of these discussions are about emergency preparedness, anticipating what would be needed in the case of natural or man-made disasters .

This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and low tech innovation. What is common to many Prepper products is that they have to be simple in design, simple to use and easy to store, products like freeze dried and canned food, emergency low tech lighting, heavy duty clothing, cooking stoves, books and toys etc.  These types of products do not need a lot in the way of start-up funds to get to market and the nature of the market with its well developed online sites and active social media audience makes Apocalyptic Innovation marketing affordable. Sounds all a bit far fetched, a return to duck and cover of the 1950s… well its worth remembering they laughed at Noah too, so the story goes.

image credit: paramount.com

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Peter DoylePeter Doyle is an award winning media marketing, news and documentary producer using rich media to accelerate innovation and commercialization. Check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterjdoyle

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