Geography and Global Markets

Geography the study of Earth’s surface, climate, continents, countries peoples, industries, and resources, is an element of the uncontrollable environment that confronts every marketer but which receives scant attention. The tendency is to study the aspects o geography as isolated entities rather than as important causal agents of the marketing environment. Geography is much more than memorizing countries, capitals and rivers. It also includes an understanding of how a society’s culture and economy are affected as a nation struggles to supply its people’s needs within the limits imposed by its physical make up. Thus, the study of geography is important in the evaluation of markets and their environment.

This article discusses the important geographic characteristics the marketer needs to consider when assessing the environmental aspects of marketing. Examining the world as a whole provides the reader with a broad view of world markets and an awareness of the effects of geographic diversity on the economic profiles of various nations. Climate and topography are examined as facets of the broader and more important elements of geography. A brief look at Earth’s resources and population – the building blocks of world markets – complete the presentation on geography and global markets.

Fog, Fog Everywhere and Water to Drink:

When you live in Chungungo, Chile, one of the country’s most arid regions with no nearby source of water, you drink fog. Of course! Thanks to a legend and resourceful Canadian and Chilean scientists, Chunhgungo now has its own supply of drinkable water after a 20 year drought. Before this new source of water Chungungo depended on water trucks that came twice a week.

Chungungo has always been an arid area, and legend has it that region’s original inhabitants used to worship trees. They considered them sacred because a permanent flow of water sprang from the tree tops, producing a constant interior rain. The legend was right – the trees produced rain! Thick fog forms along the coast. As it moves inland and is forced to rise against the hills, it changes into tiny raindrops which are in turn retained by the tree leaves producing the constant source of rain. Scientists set out to take advantage of this natural phenomenon.

The nearby ancient eucalyptus forest of EI Tofo hill provided the clue that scientists needed to create an ingenious water supply system. To duplicate the water bearing effect of the trees, they installed 86 fog catchers on the top of the hill – huge nets supported by 12 foot eucalyptus pillars, with water containers at their base. About 1,900 gallons of water are collected each day and then piped into town. This small scale system is cheap (about one fifth as expensive as having water trucked in), clean, and provides the local people with a steady supply of drinking water.

Climate and Topography:

Altitude, humidity and temperature extremes are climatic features that affect the uses and functions of products and equipment. Products that perform well in temperate zones may deteriorate rapidly or require social cooling or lubrication to function adequately in tropical zones. Manufacturers have found that construction equipment used in the US requires extensive modifications to cope with the intense heat and dust of the Sahara Desert. A Taiwanese company sent a shipment of drinking glasses via ship of a buyer in the Middle east. The glasses were packed in wooden crates with hay used as dunnage to prevent breakage. The glasses arrived in shards. Why? When the crates moved to the warmer, less humid climate of the Middle East, the moisture content of the hay dropped significantly and shriveled to appoint that it offered no protection

Within even a single national market climate can be sufficiently diverse to require major adjustments. In Ghana, product adaptable to the entire market must operate effectively in extreme desert heat and low humidity and in tropical rain forests with consistently high humidity. Bosch–Siemens washing machines designed for European countries require spin cycles to range from a minimum spin cycle of 500 rpm to a maximum of 1,600 rpm: because the sun does not shine regularly in Germany or in Scandinavia washing machines must have a 1,600 rpm spin cycle because users do not have the luxury of hanging them out to dry. In Italy and Spain, however, clothes can be damp since the abundant sunshine is sufficient to justify a spin cycle of 500 rpm.