Online 'Buzz' on Environmental Issues Sharply Up from Last Year

Prolonged online "buzz" (posts in blogs, boards and discussion groups) about the environmental terms "green" and "sustainability" suggest that heightened awareness of environmental issues is much more than a passing fad, the Nielsen Co. concluded in a report from Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

According to Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which reports on consumer-generated media, buzz about the term "sustainability," which refers to activities that allow a resource to perpetuate itself, peaked on blogs, boards and discussion groups after the Feb. 25 telecast of the Oscars as Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" took home the award for Documentary Feature. Nonetheless, "sustainability" has remained a persistent issue in the blogosphere, with buzz levels on this term up 169 percent in July 2007 versus year ago. These findings are from the "Nielsen BuzzMetrics Q2 2007 Sustainability Buzz Report," which was released on Aug. 30.

"Fueled by Al Gore, growing media attention, and other factors, these higher, lasting buzz levels suggest sustainability is further becoming a deep-rooted priority in consumers' lives," said Greg Thornhill, with Nielsen BuzzMetrics. "For marketers, this new era of sustainability means they must prepare for rising consumer awareness and scrutiny in everything they do and how it relates to the future good of the planet."

'Nimble Brands' Catching On With Sustainability

The top brands consumers associate with "sustainability" in natural online conversations tend to be nimble and independent newcomers, Thornhill added. For example, in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) category, some of the most popular brands currently discussed in connection with sustainability include: Seventh Generation, Shaklee, Method, Ecover, M.O.P., gDiapers and Greening the Cleaning.

Bottled Water Emerging As Health, Sustainability Concern

In a related environmental issue, online buzz about bottled water spiked 520 percent on July 27 (versus the beginning of the year), following recent bottled-water bans in San Francisco and Ann Arbor, and disclosures that two major bottled water brands included only tap water. This heightened scrutiny around bottled water impelled consumers to explore safety and environmental hazards, and consider alternatives. For example, chemicals in water containers were discussed frequently, as were recommendations for using greener Brita filters and filling Nalgene bottles with tap water. Importantly, consumer buzz suggests they hold manufacturers responsible for warning the public about dangers in the manufacturing and packaging process of their products.

Nielsen BuzzMetrics:

Check out the archives of Environmental Protection for additional articles related to environmental sustainability, including: "Survey Shows Most Firms Lack Formal Strategies to Deliver on Sustainability Commitments."

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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