Japan is one of the most amazing countries on the planet. From a global perspective, Japan is not the richest country in the world, and it does not have vast boundaries.
In truth, Japan is in the epicentre of a natural disaster. But, whenever they face a crisis, they always find a fantastic solution to overcome it, and Japan is always back on track in no time.
In reality, it has repeatedly established a precedent for other countries to follow in terms of how to deal with a national catastrophe. And one of the most mind-boggling case studies that Japan presented to the globe was on how to deal with the energy issue.
Japan’s Strategy to solve the Energy Crysis:
The Japanese government realised in 2005 that they were extremely vulnerable to an energy crisis. For those who are unaware, an energy crisis occurs when a country consumes far more energy than it can produce.
This lack of energy causes blackouts, the shutdown of companies, and, in general, when an energy crisis occurs in a country, it is seen as the start of an economic nightmare. And, despite its modest size, Japan was the world’s fourth greatest consumer of power in 2005.
What was even scarier was that 80 percent of that total energy was coming from outside the country, implying that they were significantly reliant on other countries for electrical production. On the surface, this may not appear to be a significant concern, but when viewed from an international perspective, it leaves Japan tremendously vulnerable to three key global dangers.
Number one, the country that supplies electricity to Japan can practically abuse its economy by imposing trade tariffs, leaving Japan with little choice but to acquiesce. Eventually, a country could use the leverage of the energy crisis to methodically rob Japan.
Number two, every major firm will think twice about establishing a facility in Japan because if Japan begins a conflict with another country tomorrow, it might be in the midst of an energy crisis, with companies running out of electricity and eventually costing them billions of dollars.
Number Three, and most crucially, in the event of a conflict, Japan could be won in this manner (snaps) simply by shutting off their energy supply. And, as the old adage goes, if a soldier is blinded for a single second in the middle of a combat, he dies, but if a country is blinded for 24 hours, the loss of life is inconceivable.
So Japan had to do something to address this issue, and such a large step required the collaboration of its inhabitants. People, take a step back and look at the energy-saving measures used by the majority of countries around the world.
As you can see, the approach itself costs them a billion dollars. Number two, despite making several appeals to its residents, the country’s citizens appear to be unconcerned about energy saving.
Finally, it takes at least 1-5 years to determine whether or not the technique is effective. But, do you know what? Japan employed a marketing plan that allowed them to save 700,000 metric tonnes of carbon, which is equivalent to $1Billion.
5 lakh vehicles have been removed from the road. And they did it in just 150 days, without spending a single penny! In fact, they made a $1 billion profit only from this advertising. The question is, what precisely is this strategy, and what makes it so remarkable that Japan was able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat?
After conducting extensive market research, the Japanese government discovered that a significant portion of this energy was being consumed by the air conditioning in corporate offices, where they discovered that due to Japan’s strict dressing culture, every single corporate employee wore double-layered formal clothing even during the summer.
As a result, the temperature of the air conditioners had to be kept at a lower level. And, because this occurred all over the country, the total energy consumption due to ACs was enormous. So they launched the Cool Biz campaign, in which the Ministry of Environment demanded that all corporate corporations require their staff to wear summer casual clothing to work.
This was done so that they could raise the temperature of the air conditioners from 26 to 28 degrees Celsius from June to October. And they spent a lot of money to promote the notion in the trendiest way possible, since Japan realised that this idea needed to be promoted to the population, not just given to them.
As a result, the Japanese government organised a fashion show in which dozens of CEOs and other senior executives were featured. Even the Prime Minister was photographed in newspapers and on television without a tie and in a short-sleeved shirt.
Soon after, businesses from all around the country signed up for the campaign, igniting a fashion frenzy. And do you know what else? The clothing businesses viewed this as a fantastic commercial opportunity and produced an exclusive line of Cool Biz clothes.
The barbers started giving free Cool Biz haircuts, and the entire business ecosystem banded together to support the Cool Biz initiative. And so, ladies and gentlemen, Japan was able to re-engineer the concept of formal clothing in just 30 days.
When the results were released 180 days later, Japan proudly stated to the world that it had effectively turned an economic danger into an economic opportunity, with the country’s GDP benefiting by 100 billion Yen.
Fast forward to now, the Cool Biz campaign has been running for 15 years, and each year they improve and save more energy. As a result of this effort, all citizens began to utilise energy more wisely at their homes because they all conserved electricity in their offices.
There are three extremely important lessons to be drawn from this case study. Number one, the power of narrative and marketing isn’t limited to selling items and services; it can also be used to save a country from a possible calamity.
Second, not every difficult problem requires a technology answer. In this example, despite being a technical pioneer, Japan did not make advantage of its incredibly fantastic technology.
In fact, they employed a human-centered approach. This tells us a lot about how we may use behavioural design to address global challenges such as climate change and global warming. Finally, and most crucially, we must all recognise that simply yelling slogans and raising awareness will not result in change unless it offers a commercial opportunity from which both the economy and society can benefit.
In this example, if you look at the Cool Biz campaign, you will notice that there is not a single protester on the streets shouting about the energy issue. However, because there was a financial incentive for the clothing firms, it created a snowball effect in which, instead of only the government, corporate organizations joined the effort to bring about a revolutionary transformation.
And this teaches us a crucial lesson: if we want to encourage change, we must establish business possibilities to incentivise change. And if done well, it will unintentionally and effortlessly launch a revolution.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read. Bye-bye.