Online Buzz on Environmental Issues Up 169% from a Year Ago

September 27, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media

Prolonged online buzz about the environmental terms “green” and “sustainability” suggest that heightened awareness of environmental issues is much more than a passing fad, according to a Nielsen BuzzMetrics report on consumer-generated media.

Buzz about the term “sustainability” peaked on blogs, boards and discussion groups after the February 25 telecast of The Oscars (see graph 1) as Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” took home the Oscar for Documentary Feature, according to the Nielsen BuzzMetrics Q2 2007 Sustainability Buzz Report.

Still, “sustainability” has remained a persistent issue in the blogosphere, with buzz levels on this term up 169% in July 2007 from a year earlier, BuzzMetrics said.

Graph 1: Share of keywords related to “sustainability” – % of overall online discussions:


“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, VP and Practice Lead, CPG, 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.”

The top brands that consumers associate with “sustainability” in natural online conversations tend to be nimble and independent newcomers, according to the data: 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.

In a related environmental issue, online buzz about bottled water spiked 520% percent on July 27 compared with the beginning of the year (see graph 2), following bottled-water bans in San Francisco and Ann Arbor, and disclosures that two major bottled water brands included only tap water.

Graph 2: Share of keywords related to bottled water & sustainability – % of overall discussion:


The heightened scrutiny around bottled water prompted consumers to explore safety and environmental hazard, and consider alternatives, according to BuzzMetrics: For example, chemicals in water containers were discussed frequently, as were recommendations for using greener Brita filters and filling Nalgene bottles with tap water.

The buzz suggests that consumers consider manufacturers responsible for warning the public about dangers in the manufacturing and packaging process of their products, BuzzMetrics said.

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