Consumers Chuck Green Debate for Environmental Action

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While global warming and the environment seem to have declined as priorities for Americans, the internet chatter on sustainability is still increasing.

Posted Feb 11, 2009
By Sustainable Life Media

Marketers take note: Consumers' online conversations are shifting
from simple discussion of sustainability topics to indications of
personal environmental action, a new report finds.

Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates tracked
sustainability-related blog posts and discussion boards from January
2007 to December 2008, yielding some striking numbers:

  • Conversations about sustainability topics more than doubled
    since the beginning of 2007, spiking in mid-2008 when gas prices were
    highest.
  • In early 2007, online discussions were dominated by consumers who
    were either confused by or skeptical of scientific findings surrounding
    key environmental issues such as climate change. By the end of 2008,
    more than seven in ten online posters who mentioned sustainability
    topics indicated they were concerned about the environment – and nearly
    half reported that they were actively doing something about it (think
    driving less, recycling more, and buying green products).
  • Online commentary among "rejecters" – consumers who are skeptical
    or ambivalent about environmental concerns and do not make purchase
    decisions based on environmental factors – declined from a high of 22%
    in early 2007 to just 3% by the end of 2008.
  • At the same time, the proportion of bloggers who consider themselves "activists" – those who actively encourage others to modify behavior – swelled from 8% to 18% over the course of 2008.
  • During the second half of 2007, 9% of online sustainability conversations mentioned a brand by name. By June 2008, 11% did.

"It is evident that consumer sentiment around the need to adopt
environmentally sustainable habits is rapidly changing from skepticism
to acceptance to activism," says Janet Eden-Harris, vice president of
J.D. Power and Associates Web Intelligence Division. "Brands that are
cognizant of this important shift and manage messages about their
products and services accordingly have the ability to capitalize on
changes that many consumers are making in their everyday lives."

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