Last Spring I participated in a presentation on sustainability to one of nation's top consumer packaged goods companies. While I chipped in here and here, the real rock-star who delivered the compelling, provocative, and talk-worthy insights -- and who truly engaged this influential audience -- was my colleague at Nielsen Online, Jessica Hogue. Jessica's since built up even more expertise, having carefully analyzed and interpreted tens of millions of online conversations reflecting consumer attitudes toward green issues, sustainability, corporate responsibility, and more,. I'd be remiss not to my readers know she's presenting some topline insights in a free webinar this Tuesday, April 1, at 2 PM EST. Here's the link to sign-up. I always try to keep the so-called "shameless plugs" about the work at my "real job" to a minimum, but I'm not going to apologize in offering the strongest recommendation for this particular webinar. I frankly think it's one of the most important conversational trends taking place on the web. Here's the official description:
As buzz about sustainability rises, bloggers are discussing issues beyond global warming and revealing new insight into consumer behavior. More than ever, consumers are paying attention to corporate social responsibility as "going green" becomes a key factor in buying decisions. How do consumers perceive corporate actions and brand messaging related to the sustainability movement?
One issue Jessica will touch upon is what Mya Frazier of Advertising Age recently popularized in a cover story as "Greenwashing" -- which Wikipedia describes as "the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a
company or the environmental benefits of a product or service." Jessica and her team have been carefully studying whether consumers actually view corporate claims around green as credible and believable.
Again, this is a classic area where listening really matters. Brands need to understand where consumers are both open to messaging, and the level of belief, disbelief, or skepticism they are starting with before they hear corporate claims.
In many cases, claiming "green" just won't fly, especially as consumers exercise the web's "transparency toolkit" in the form of search, Wikipedia, activist web utilities (which make it increasingly simpler to vet out claims). This is yet another reason why I peg "affirmation" and "transparency" as two of the my six drivers of brand credibility in my upcoming book. Truths or untruths are readily affirmed on the web.
Anticipating Green Currents: But even beyond using CGM as a vetting vehicle around green claims, an equally valuable dimension of the online conversation is the degree to which it highlights emerging trends or unmet needs on the green front. In this Nielsen Brand Association Map (BAM), for example, taken during the first half of 2007, you'll note heightened consumer concern around "Bottled Water." For many, bottled water has become a new battle front on the sustainability movement, as many believe it's leading to unnecessary waste. Does everyone buy this? Well, that's where the conversation become so important, and this too is a topic Jessica will touch upon. Again:
Webinar on CGM and Sustainability
Tuesday, April 1, at 2 PM EST
Here's the link to sign-up.