In 2005, when hurricane Katrina hit the oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, gas prices shot up to an unprecedented $1.30/litre. Consumers were shocked; sales of SUV’s sank while hybrid vehicles enjoyed new popularity. Slowly over the following months, prices stabilized and returned to pre-hurricane levels. Vehicle sales trends quickly reversed with gas guzzling SUV sales rising and hybrids became a niche market directed toward ‘left winged environmentalists’ once again.
Unfortunately consumers did not learn that the Katrina experience was a preview of what was to come.
Six years later, gas prices have now returned to the $1.30/litre level, but this time around there is no natural disaster to point the finger at, just oil company greed. With oil prices falling below the $90/barrel mark, consumers are outraged and filling up their vehicle has not only become financially painful, but an emotionally frustrating experience.
This, is a good thing.
High gas prices becoming a way of life will hopefully force our society to make changes now; not because it is the morally correct thing to do, but because it hurts in the pocketbook. In marketing, there is nothing like hammering home a message to make it stick, and filling up every week will be that hammer. It is sad that we as a society have to wait until we are on the brink to make changes, procrastinate until we have no choice left in the matter, or just put our heads in the ground in hopes that things will go away.
We all know that our current way of life is unsustainable; our food system, transportation, etc. depend solely on oil. We will make the changes necessary to survive, we have no choice, but what is unknown is when those changes will occur. Let’s hope it is sooner rather than later.